The winners of Channel 4 and Northumbria University’s inaugural Northern Writers’ Awards have been announced.

Nuzhat Ali from Bradford and Sharma Walfall from Manchester were selected from 264 entrants.

As part of the judging process, 6 finalists pitched their ideas to the panel and from next month, they will spend 10 months being mentored by Red Production Company and Lime Pictures.

Red’s creative director, Caroline Hollick said of Ali:

“Nurturing raw talent is what we strive to do and we were impressed by all of the finalists. We’re going to stay in touch with all of them, as they are all interesting new voices. However, for us there was one clear winner, and that was Nuzhat Ali. We were blown away by her passion, her strength of opinion, and wealth of interesting experience.”

Walfall, meanwhile, will be working with Lime:

“Sharma’s script sample was full of real characters, raw energy and insight which really made it stand out for us. She’s hungry to tell stories, has a fresh, original voice, an infectious enthusiasm and is bursting with ideas. We look forward to welcoming her on board Hollyoaks, harnessing all that passion and imagination and helping her to realise her dream,” said Di Burrows, producer, Lime Pictures.

Next year’s awards will open for submissions in the autumn.

“We are delighted that we have been able to uncover such promising writers for this award. As they are relatively new writers we will ensure that the support they get is bespoke and takes into account their individual development needs, so that they have the best chance possible of seeing their work on screen,” added Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North.

“We feel very fortunate to bring such a brilliant opportunity to writers through our rewarding partnership with Channel 4, Northumbria University, Lime Pictures and Red Production Company.”

Nuzhat Ali completed an education studies degree in Bradford and her play, When George Came to Bradford was included in the Bradford Literature Festival and has been recorded for the BBC website.

Sharma Walfall is a writer/actor from Manchester. She has a BA (Hons) in media and performance from the University of Salford and has written a number of short films that have gone into production. She’s currently working at The Contact Theatre in Manchester.