TEN years ago, it dawned on Ann McManus and Eileen Gallagher, two Scots who had made their fortunes in London with the TV production company, Shed Productions, that the industry really needed new writers.

Spotting a gap in the market, and seeking to cast their net wider than London, they established a TV writing course with Glasgow Caledonian University. Today, GCU is home to the UK’s only full-time master’s degree that is focused on the writing of television drama.

Its graduates have seen their names in the credits of such hugely popular British drama series, from EastEnders and Casualty to Holby City, Waterloo Road, River City, and Doctors.

Scholarship support is provided by Warner Brothers, BBC Scotland, BBC Alba, and Gallagher and McManus, while guest speakers have included Phil Redmond, Bodyguard producer Eric Coulter, and Gallagher herself.

Lorna Martin, a former Herald and Observer journalist, who did the course in 2014, tonight sees a new series, Women on the Verge, which she created with Sharon Horgan, premiering on the UKTV channel W.

The MA course is holding a celebration at Oran Mor on October 25, hosted by David Hayman, to mark the 10th anniversary of the arrival of its first intake of students.

"The course has done fantastically well," said lecturer Chris Dolan, who is a course leader alongside Ann Marie di Mambro. "It's hard at any one point to say where all of our graduates are at any one point, because people move around a lot in this industry, but we have graduates working all over the place.

"It's not just in television, either. One graduate, Linda McLaughlin, has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger award. David Cosgrove is doing phenomenally well in theatre. Michael Richardson has been shortlisted for a film prize. I think we've been really good at picking students," he added.

The course each year receives around 80 applications, which means that it is heavily over-subscribed as only a dozen places are available. The course has four modules, covering TV-related issues, story and script technique, writing for long-running drama, and a 'writer's room' about creating original drama.

The third module, Dolan continues, "is a key one for the course. We say to people, if you were to be commissioned after you leave us - and that has happened, every now and then - you will know how to write an episode for a long-running drama, whether it's Eastenders, or River City, or Holby, or whatever. There are definite crafts and you need to know how that works, and you will be able to do that.

Each graduate leaves with two calling-card scripts - a 60-minute original drama and the first episode of a long-running series. The students are encouraged to collaborate and exchange ideas.

"I think we've created something quite special in Glasgow," Dolan adds. "There's now a bunch of really well-trained, really eager and enthusiastic, really good writers, all based round about the city."

He acknowledges the remarkable growth in quality TV drama. "Just this morning, the dinner-ladies in the canteen here were talking about [the hit BBC drama] The Cry. Last week they were talking about Bodyguard.

"There's a lot of really good drama coming to terrestrial television and our students are in a perfect position to pick up on all these things, and it is becoming increasingly internationalised."

Mark Stevenson, an MA TV graduate whose credits include EastEnders, Casualty and River City, said: “I was writing film scripts after work and at weekends and I was really enjoying it. Unfortunately, at that stage, I had zero experience and no contacts in the industry.

“There was a wide variety of people of all ages on the course, including a firefighter, a landscape gardener and a nurse – life experience and passion were what counted. Without MA TV I wouldn't be working in television - it's a simple as that.”

Lorna Martin, co-creator of Women on the Verge, said: "I did the course in 2014 when I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old and it was very intense and there were times I wondered what I’d let myself in for. But it gave me a much-needed boost of confidence when I was finding it very difficult to finish other scripts. I’d started so many other projects but without a deadline had found it really hard to complete them.

"I was financially supported by Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus during the course and that was also invaluable, both in terms of enabling me to do the course, but also just to have their endorsement."

Horgan had been in touch with Martin before she began the MA course, and they started writing a pilot together in 2011.

* Women on the Verge starts at 10pm tonight on W.