View this newsletter in your browser
British Comedy Guide Newsletter
'Make It' Newsletter Wednesday 25th July 2012
Here's a new edition of 'Make It', our occasional newsletter designed for all those interested in writing, producing, directing and performing. We're pretty confident you'll find a few things of interest below.

The main news since our last email is that Sky, ITV, Channel 4, Comedy Central and UKTV are all increasing their spend in the area of comedy... so more potential opportunities/openings for those hoping to get their show onto telly. The only network not looking to make more comedy is the BBC... but it is still making some new shows, and has very specific visions on what it wants. BBC One is after more studio sitcoms (report) and, as you'll read below, BBC Three (which is suffering a bad ratings slide at the moment incidentally) knows exactly what it wants. BBC Four isn't really making any more comedy sadly.

Hopefully you've been keeping up with the general news on our website over the last few months, as there's too much to report here in regards to commissions and what not from all the above channels. Behind-the-scenes it seems that TV executives have been playing a game of musical chairs though, as there's lots of people shifting positions. Perhaps most notably BBC Comedy Commissioner Cheryl Taylor is off to run CBBC, so there'll soon be a different person picking what gets made on the BBC. There's also recently been line-up changes at ITV, whilst Sky has boosted its commissioning department as it continues to invest multi-millions in new comedy content.

Anyway, here's some features:
'Make It' Features
Feature Picture Writing Opportunities

Our 'Writing Opportunities' forum is the place to check if you're looking for outlets for your comic writing skills. BCG members share the opportunities they've found via our message board. At the moment there's a few competitions and other such things posted: Read
Feature Picture Cofilmic 2012 - Why you should get involved

With a few weeks left till the Cofilmic short film competition deadline, we talk to founder Janet Harrison to find out more about this year's content and her plans for the October film festival in Manchester. Read
Feature Picture Edinburgh Fringe 2012

The BCG is just gearing up to cover the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which begins next week. We have over 1,300 comedy shows listed on our website - but, if you're performing, have you sent us your full press release yet? View
Feature Picture What Are You Laughing At?

Our podcast about comedy, hosted by Dave Cohen, has kindly been recommended by publications like The Radio Times. Red Dwarf script editor Andrew Ellard stopped by in April to share his thoughts on writing, and in the latest edition Mark Thomas talks about performing and Horrible Histories producer Caroline Norris talks about creating TV. Listen
Feature Picture Stand-Up Tips

Radio 2's 2012 search for a stand-up star peaks next month (it'll be back next year if you missed entering this time). As a side product of that, here's some animated videos in which Rhod Gilbert offers some tips. Watch
Feature Picture Review: Ian Fox's Edinburgh Fringe 'how to' book

A review of 'How To Produce, Perform and Write An Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show' - a book written by Ian Fox that will be of interest to anyone who is, or is thinking of, performing at the Edinburgh Festival. Read
Feature Picture BBC Three calls for Feed My Funny 2013 submissions

BBC Three has opened submissions for its next raft of 'Feed My Funny' online comedy pilots, which will go live in 2013. Sadly, you'll need to find a production company to submit via - you can't do it direct. Read
Feature Picture Samuell Benta - All About The McKenzies

Samuell Benta, the creator of All About The McKenzies, an online sitcom which has clocked up millions of views, talks about how he created the show. Read
Feature Picture Greenhouse Funny Prize

An interview with Julia Churchill, the organiser of the Greenhouse Funny Prize, which is seeking writers to can create funny books for children. Due to the bad timing of this email the deadline is in just a few days time (sorry), so you'll have to act quick if you want to take part. Read
Feature Picture Jon Plowman & Paul Jackson

A video in which experienced producers Jon Plowman and Paul Jackson talk about sitcom writing and the future of the genre. Watch
Feature Picture Are you the next David Mitchell? £10k if you are

The creators of David Mitchell's Soapbox are looking for 'the next David Mitchell'. There's a development deal and a £10,000 prize for the winner. The deadline is in October. Info
Feature Picture Brighton Comedy Festival launches new competition

The Brighton Comedy Festival is launching a new competition - open to all types of comedy act - called The Squawker Award. Just a couple of days left to register your interest though! Read
Comedy You Made
In each 'Make It' newsletter we showcase a comedy project or two created by our members. To be considered, just post your video in our showcase forum.

Showcase Image Overactive Solutions

A fake company created by some of the members of our website (here's their message board thread). They've designed a spoof website, and also filmed video set in the office. Experienced performers like Nick Helm and Isabel Fay are amongst those roped in to appear. View
Showcase Image Live from Kirrin Island

A topical sketch show podcast written by members of the BCG, and performed in front of a live audience. The show, which has also been broadcast on Brooklands Radio, made it into the iTunes chart, and so they're now planning more. Listen
What BBC Three Wants...
Back in May, BBC Three circulated an internal document called 'Funny On Three' to certain production companies detailing how it wanted to develop writers. If you've not already been selected as one of these writers there's nothing particular you can act on in regards to this document, but it's an interesting insight into how the channel is operating and what it is looking for. We've managed to get hold of a copy of this document, and present some excerpts from it below. You can tell it's not totally up-to-date as some of the shows mentioned in the first paragraph have been axed!

What Works On BBC Three?

Comedy continues to deliver exciting, innovative shows to the BBC Three audience, such as Lee Nelson's Well Good Show and Mongrels, as well as young mainstream successes like White Van Man, Him & Her and Pramface. These series continue to make a real impact on the channel with their colour and confidence, and combine original ideas underpinned with high quality production values.

BBC Three is focused on the young - its core target audience are 16-34 year-olds: people who are young in spirit and mindset. The tone of the channel is warm, personal and surprising. The audience responds to shows with a bold premise, real energy and plenty of humour, that present the world from a distinctive, but relatable point of view.

Comedy on BBC Three can afford to take risks and we want bold, inventive, fresh ideas that have bags of attitude and high impact that connect with the lives and aspirations of a young and young-at-heart audience.

Funny On Three

Initiated by BBC Creative Head of Comedy, Simon London and supported by Cheryl Taylor, BBC Controller, Comedy Commissioning and BBC Three Controller, Zai Bennett, Funny on Three aims to develop experienced writers who are new to comedy sitcom. We are inviting applications for scripts based on the following three commissioning priorities:

1. Our top priority is to find a studio show with well-defined, original, likeable, youthful characters like Two Pints of Lager, IT Crowd or Big Bang Theory.

BBC Three audiences want to be surprised and thrilled with studio comedy that must be innovative, laugh-out-loud and edgy without being patronising of our audience.

That's likely to mean post-watershed ideas that resonate with the audience's lives and experience. We'd like to see the Nations and English Regions represented in the offers we receive, with a modern, diverse feel to the fore.

2. A single camera script that is colourful, edgy, surprising and delivers a strong laugh-rate. The scenes and dialogue should be to the point and have pace. Gavin and Stacey showed what a BBC Three comedy would become - we would love more ideas of equivalent ambition and appeal.

3. BBC Three is 'Never Afraid to Try new Stuff' and Funny on Three is keen to receive ideas for an innovative show that can achieve the notoriety of comedies like The Mighty Boosh, The Young Ones and Bottom. We welcome scripts full of innovation and cultish comedy characters and recognise that this brief may be of particular interest to writer performers.


Please find below potential scenarios that we are particularly interested in.

1. A young woman comes of age only to discover the father 'that walked out' when she was younger is infact a sperm donor. She sets out to discover her half siblings.

2. Two brothers who are chalk and cheese inherit the family firm. They are delighted they can now flex their entrepreneurial muscles. However, their contrasting personalities and lifestyles are not conducive to happiness and the workplace soon becomes a war zone.

3. A fashion conscious teen and her gay brother are forced to move to a rural community and are horrified by what faces them.

Other potential areas of interest are youthful flatshare sitcoms, romcoms and youthful workplace sitcoms.

Please note, these are by no means prescriptive and we will accept other ideas targeted at BBC Three and that are based on their commissioning priorities outlined in the section above 'What works on Three'. We are always interested in ideas that naturally celebrate a diverse and energetic young culture.

Application Process

BCG Note: Please remember, you can't approach BBC Three without a production company backing, so we are only publishing this next section to give an insight into the format commissioners are after...

In terms of delivery we would like you to send a first draft of the pilot episode (max. 10 pages) complete with a 6-episode overview and key character breakdown (1-2 pages) and send as a .doc or PDF (totalling no more than 12 pages).

Please format your script as closely to industry standard as you can make sure your name and details are on each sheet and that all pages are numbered.

Elsewhere on the web...
Here are some links to features on other websites which we found particularly interesting or useful:

- An article asking 'Stand-up comedy competitions - serious fun or self-harm?': Giggle Beats

- Peep Show and Fresh Meat writer Sam Bain shares some advice (and a few regrets) in this great article: The Guardian

- Chris Reddy, the writer of BBC3's Pramface, shares some writing tips: BBC Comedy Blog

- An interesting interview with stand-up Adam Bloom in which he warns that the Edinburgh Festival can over-inflate your ego. 'You spend a month of the year feeling like you're really successful, then you get back to England on 1st September and no-one cares about you and no-one knows who you are': Giggle Beats

- BBC Commissioners give some tips for pitching a sitcom: BBC Commissioning

- Stand-up Jo Caulfield has been collecting up interviews with comedians on the topic 'Things I've learned as a comedian': Jo Caulfield's blog

- Video in which producer Simon London talks about how he reads comedy scripts: BBC Writersroom

- Jon Plowman says that increased demand for shows means that pay rates for writers will have to rise: The Guardian

- Meanwhile, the BBC agrees to pay writers based on iPlayer views: BBC Ariel

- Radio 4 writer Tom Collinson says putting on live shows proved to be a way to get noticed by commissioners: Guardian Professional

- Stuart Goldsmith's podcast series The Comedian's Comedian offers some very in-depth discussion and insight into the life of a professional comedian. Guests include Sarah Millican: The Comedian's Comedian

- Aspiring stand-up comic Simon Caine shares some tips on how to win in the gladiator arena of comedy gong shows: Chortle

- Caption Me is a UK-based website run for fun, which offers a £100 monthly prize for the best photo caption: Caption Me

- Also, the blog by comedy writer James Cary, is always an interesting read. Topics he's written about this year include how to cope with rejection, the use of stereotypes as shortcuts, and what to do when an actor asks you to change some lines.

For general comedy related links and insight don't forget to keep an eye on our main website and Twitter every day - we post all kinds of interviews, news and such like related to the world of British comedy.
Message Board Chat
A flavour of some of the conversations and questions from our message board...

"Looking for a couple of good comedians to fill restaurant spots during September in Devon" Abed in Performance Discussion

"Recently I have been toying with the idea of using a stage name in order to maintain the level of emotional honesty whilst in front of an audience but to keep an emotional distance from them..." Xander Flatt in Questions on the use of stage names

"Any suggestions on how to reset yourself to write something worth reading?" DeathbyMonkey asks about Writer's Block

"I see that many people on BCG have their own blogs and I was thinking about starting one, but I have no idea how to go about it. Is there websites that give you a blog? If so which are the best ones?" blahblah asks some Blog Questions

"I've found myself thinking about trying stand-up out but I just wouldn't know where to start with writing a set so was wondering if anyone has any tips." Izzet6 in Writers' Discussion

For more, see: Writers' Discussion & Performance Discussion
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for reading! For regular updates keep an eye on our 'Make It' section, which we're now finally starting to post content to!

The British Comedy Guide

If you've ever got anything to promote please consider The Comedy Advertising Network (which we're a member of) - it's a very effective way of getting your product, event, show or whatever seen and talked about by British comedy fans - CAN reaches over 600,000 people a month.