British Comedy Guide

Sending Sitcom to BBC Writersroom

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Gareth Stack

  • Tuesday 15th May 2012, 10:48pm
  • Dublin, Ireland, Ireland
  • 15 posts

Sending off my first sitcom to the BBC writers room tomorrow. Here's my problem - the first episode is not that funny. I've a much funnier second episode written, would it make any sense to send that or are they only interested in 'pilots'?

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David Bussell

  • Tuesday 15th May 2012, 10:52pm
  • London, England
  • 9943 posts
Quote: Gareth Stack @ May 15 2012, 10:48 PM BST

Sending off my first sitcom to the BBC writers room tomorrow. Here's my problem - the first episode is not that funny. I've a much funnier second episode written, would it make any sense to send that or are they only interested in 'pilots'?

Listen to what you're saying - you're talking about sending a commissioner a comedy that isn't funny. Given the level of competition any sitcom writer faces, what do you think the answer is?

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Alan O'Brien

  • Tuesday 15th May 2012, 11:49pm
  • Liverpool, England
  • 98 posts

Often the pilot episode isn't the funniest. Def send the one you think represents your best work. I'm sending off episode 4 of mine.

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Corey O'Graffor

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 12:04am
  • England
  • 851 posts

I think industry standard is half the pilot and half of the other episode.

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David Bussell

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 8:16am
  • London, England
  • 9943 posts
Quote: Corey O'Graffor @ May 16 2012, 12:04 AM BST

I think industry standard is half the pilot and half of the other episode.

Never in all my years have I heard this.

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Marc P

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 8:18am
  • England
  • 17698 posts

Nor me if it helps. Send your best work.

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Stevie D

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 8:49am
  • Cambridge, England
  • 27 posts

If the pilot isn't funny then make it funny. People often think they can get away with a less than humourous pilot, but nobody wants to make a sitcom where people turn off after the first episode.

I believe that Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle and Arrested Development all won Best Comedy writing Emmys for the Pilots.

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Jinky

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 9:41am
  • England
  • 783 posts

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Hmmm.....the 'ascii facepalm' looks a bit fatter than it ought to. Must be something about this site...

Anyway, OP, if you've written an unfunny sitcom then just label it as a 'comedy drama'.

Seems to be all the rage right now.

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Gareth Stack

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 9:57am [Edited]
  • Dublin, Ireland, Ireland
  • 15 posts

To be clear. The pilot is funny. The second episode is much funnier. The BBC don't make spec scripts anyway - at least I don't know of one they've made. So the point of sending them scripts is really to get hired, or get some kind of development interest, right? What I was asking is do they have any objection to receiving an episode that is not the first one - especially as the show has a narrative arc. It's not a re-set the world at the end of the episode style sitcom like say 'Father Ted', but niether is it a 'comedy drama' like say 'Skins'. The show is closer to something like 'The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin' or more recently 'The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Tod Margaret' - a single cam, character driven, six episode story arc, which naturally gets funnier the more you know the characters etc.

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Lazzard

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 10:20am [Edited]
  • Ludlow, England
  • 4001 posts
Quote: Gareth Stack @ May 16 2012, 9:57 AM BST

To be clear. The pilot is funny.

But not that funny?
Make your mind up.

Look, just send the best thing you've got.
it's your ability to write they're interested in, not your sitcom.

If you have faith in the idea itself, WritersRoom is not the place.
Get it in front of commissioning editors, freelance producers and production companies.

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Marc P

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 10:21am
  • England
  • 17698 posts

Why is the second episode funnier. If it is because you are taking too long to set up the sit - then that is not a good thing. You should hit the ground running. We should know a great deal about all the characters (their attitudes) if not from the first line then at least from the first few lines they utter.

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David Bussell

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 10:28am
  • London, England
  • 9943 posts
Quote: Gareth Stack @ May 16 2012, 9:57 AM BST

To be clear. The pilot is funny.

Quote: Gareth Stack @ May 15 2012, 10:48 PM BST

Here's my problem - the first episode is not that funny.

Make your mind up! Smilie

Putting aside the sheer futility of sending anything to the Writers Room, you should only ever send out your absolute best work. If you've written a serial then you really ought to send the first episode, so you better make sure it's hilarious. Obviously there's pipe to be laid in any pilot - the trick is to learn how you go about weaving laughs into the exposition. Be ruthless with your story - are there scenes in the script that don't advance the plot? Are there moments where characters are talking to one another for no reason other than to clue the audience into the kind of people they are? Those are the parts of the pilot you need to work on. Cut that stuff out, concentrate on writing a funny story that builds to an even funnier conclusion and drop any excuses about how the audience would fall in love with your characters if only they stuck around until later in the series. Right now your audience is the one person at the beeb whose job it is to read your script, and if your story isn't engaging enough their brain will check out by page 2, let alone episode 2.

Quote: Lazzard @ May 16 2012, 10:20 AM BST


Make your mind up.

Jinx!

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Gareth Stack

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 10:33am [Edited]
  • Dublin, Ireland, Ireland
  • 15 posts
Quote: Lazzard @ May 16 2012, 10:20 AM BST


Look, just send the best thing you've got.
it's your ability to write they're interested in, not your sitcom..

Question answered I guess - send them the second episode.

Quote: Marc P @ May 16 2012, 10:21 AM BST

Why is the second episode funnier.

Don't you find that second episodes are always funnier? With the exception of shows where a single pilot has been lovingly crafted by it's creator and the rest is handled by additional writers?

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David Bussell

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 10:33am
  • London, England
  • 9943 posts
Quote: Gareth Stack @ May 16 2012, 10:30 AM BST

Question answered I guess - send them the second episode.

Unless your second episode makes absolutely no sense without reading the first (which is certainly true for Todd Margaret).

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Gareth Stack

  • Wednesday 16th May 2012, 10:44am
  • Dublin, Ireland, Ireland
  • 15 posts
Quote: Lazzard @ May 16 2012, 10:20 AM BST


If you have faith in the idea itself, WritersRoom is not the place.
Get it in front of commissioning editors, freelance producers and production companies.

How? There are 6 production companies I've found in the UK that even accept spec sitcom scripts, and only 4 of those have ever made a sitcom. I'd be delighted to sit down with some commissioning editors. Any advice on that front?

Fast reply

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