ViacomCBS Launches First-Look Deal Program Featuring Underrepresented British Talent

Viacom International Studios (VIS) VIS has signed five up and coming British writers as part of a new “First Look Deal Program” to amplify underrepresented voices and promote diversity and inclusion. Morgan Bailey, Bec Boey, Chris Bush, Iman Qureshi, and Kaamil Shah will pitch five ideas over the next couple of years, with VIS committing to commissioning at least two projects to the treatment stage of development, and one to script.

According to VIS, the emerging talent was selected, “based on their proven scriptwriting talent, their variety of interests and writing styles, and potential to collaborate on distinctive development projects intended for [new streamer] Paramount+.”

VIS Vice President Kate Laffey and VIS UK Head of Development Claire Sowerby-Sheppard will be heading up the initiative.

“Since inception, VIS has been on the front lines of finding and partnering with diverse creatives from around the world,” said Laffey, “As ViacomCBS continues its expansion of Paramount+ globally, it’s critical that we create content that speaks to all audiences. This new initiative will ensure we continue to infuse diversity, equity and inclusion into every aspect of our work, particularly our U.K. originated content.”

Here’s a closer look at the quintet:

Morgan Bailey


“Bailey is a writer of Caribbean descent,” said ViacomCBS. “He has recently been commissioned to write an episode for a new animated children’s series for CBBC. His short film titled Cuffed is currently in development with the BFI/ Film Hub North.” Previously, he was a member of the BBC Writers room. In early 2018, he directed the short film Rumet.


Bec Boey


Boey is a graduate of the Royal Court’s Young Writers Program and the BBC Writers Room London Voices group. Her short film work includes Jade Dragon (best comedy at London International Short Film Festival), Troll Hunters and The Burglar. “Her audio horror series The Beach Hut has been commissioned to pilot by Storypunk,” the company also highlighted. “She’s currently developing a TV comedy with Sarah Brocklehurst and a feature film with Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor/BFI.”

Chris Bush


“Bush is an award-winning playwright, lyricist, theater-maker and an associate director at Sheffield Theatres,” the company noted. Her past work includes HungryKein Weltuntergang/(Not) the End of the WorldStanding at the Sky’s Edge (best musical at the U.K. Theatre Awards) and Nine Lessons and Carols: Stories for a Long Winter.

Iman Qureshi


Qureshi is an award-winning writer for stage, screen and radio. “In 2018, she won the prestigious Papatango New Writing Prize with her breakout play The Funeral Director, which premiered at the Southwark Playhouse before touring the U.K.,” the company said. “The play is now being adapted for the screen with STV Productions. Her play The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs is also being adapted with NBCUniversal.”

Kaamil Shah

Kingston Upon Thames

The writer for TV, film and theater is “passionate about telling the stories of the Indian and Pakistani diaspora,” the company highlighted.” A graduate of both the London Film School and Cambridge University, in 2019, he was selected for the UGC Writer’s Campus at the Series Mania festival in Lille, France where he developed his drama Dubai on Thames, which is now in development with Three Tables Productions.” His TV monologue Shahid’s First Shave was available on the BBC iPlayer, while his first short film The Colour of Milk premiered at London’s BFI Southbank. He is developing original series ideas with various companies.

ViacomCBS International Studios, introduced in 2018, is a division of ViacomCBS Networks International that includes production of content for ViacomCBS brands and platforms, including Paramount+, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Channel 5, Network 10, Telefe, Ananey, Porta Dos Fundos, Chilevisión and leading global Spanish-language content creator VIS, as well as for third-parties.

The Tycoon Herald