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Oscar-nominated scriptwriter wrote The Favourite whilst studying at UEA

PUBLISHED: 16:42 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 25 January 2019

The Favourite

The Favourite

Element Pictures and 20th Century FOX

Norfolk-born Olivia Colman stars as Queen Anne in The Favourite but she isn't the only county link to the Oscar-nominated film.

An early draft of the period comedy-drama, which also stars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, was penned by Deborah Davis whilst studying for an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

She has been nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars alongside co-writer Tony McNamara and the film also has nine other nominations including best actress for Colman, supporting actress for Weisz and Stone and best director for Yorgos Lanthimos.

Deborah first got the idea for The Favourite 20 years ago after reading a newspaper article about a secret relationship between Queen Anne and her advisor Sarah Churchill.

She had studied history for her undergraduate degree but knew nothing about it so started researching and found the story about a female triangle.

The Favourite, which is set in 1708 with Britain at war with France, follows an ill Queen Anne as her advisor and lover Sarah (Weisz) competes for the queen’s attention when her cousin Abigail (Stone) arrives at the palace.

Speaking to Awards Daily, Deborah said: “I wrote the first draft in 1998 and I had no experience in scriptwriting.

“I took myself to night school to learn.

“I took that first draft to Ceci Dempsey (The Favourite producer who also worked on The Lobster with director Yorgos Lanthimos) and she was very interested in it, but at the time she wasn’t ready to take it on.

Olivia Coleman arriving at the British Academy Film Awards Nominee's party, at Asprey, New Bond Street, in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 15, 2014. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireOlivia Coleman arriving at the British Academy Film Awards Nominee's party, at Asprey, New Bond Street, in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 15, 2014. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

“She said to always keep in touch with her and just at that point, I was accepted into the University of East Anglia to do a scriptwriting course and I was helped and influenced by my tutor who was really interested in The Balance of Power as it was then called.

“I went back to Ceci in the early 2000’s and she said she was ready to take it on.”

Australian screenwriter Tony McNamaa was then later enlisted to freshen up the script.

UEA Vice Chancellor David Richardson said: “UEA is incredibly proud of its graduates and it is always wonderful to see them recognised for their success, especially on a platform such as the Oscars.”

The Favourite is up against First Reformed, Green Book, Roma and Vice in the Original Screenplay at the Oscars on February 25.

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