British Comedy Guide

Writing for radio advice



  • Tuesday 27th October 2015, 10:59pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 27 posts

Hi all.

I am looking into having a go at writing a radio sitcom and would like a few tips to get me started.

I have had a desire to write for a few years and have started scripts for a couple of films and three TV shows but never finished any. The trouble has always been that doing it in my spare time meant that the progress was slow and quite often something too similar would come out before I finished (BBC2's 'Ideal' was one example - not exactly the same as what I had been writing but close enough for me to feel that people would say I was copying an idea).

I believe I am okay when it comes to dialogue and character interaction but was finding screen direction, scene setting and character description (such as (ignoring), (looking forlorn), etc) was the most time consuming aspect. Having listened to some Hancocks Half Hour and Reluctant Persuaders recently, I really like the way they are mostly about the dialogue.

I have a couple of sitcom ideas already and though I am not expecting any sort of take-up on them, I think it will be an enjoyable thing to give a go. I previously used Celtx but as this is no longer supported on Windows and not really wanting to pay out for anything until I see if it is really for me, am stuck with MS Word for now.

So, after boring you, onto what I actually came here for....

I have noticed several variations on the Radio script format (some have line numbers that reset to 1 on each page, others have page-breaks that are not a new scene or anything obvious) and from what I have read, the rules are far less rigid for radio than they are for TV. Is there a preferred version for either writers or those reading it?

A rule of thumb on TV scripts is one page of A4 equates to one minute of screen time. Is there a similar timing methodology for radio?

Is there a simple way of denoting a period of passed time, whether it be minutes or hours? For example a different day or the hours between leaving your house in the morning and returning after work. Some could obviously be done with ATMOS or something early in the subsequent dialogue, but this might not always be possible.

Aside from accents, is there any other character description required other than when mentioned in dialogue? Going back to TV, a character is described away from the on-screen content (Dave is small of stature but has an air of confidence about him) but with radio, the characters own dialogue should tell you everything about them?

I think that is it for now! Sorry it is long but want to try to fall into good habits straight away.

For those who are still reading, thanks for for patience and any advice you can give. For those not still reading, I don't blame you!


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  • Tuesday 27th October 2015, 11:14pm
  • Surreyish., England
  • 31,512 posts

I think the best thing is to finish a script and submit it.


Frankie Mildly Perturbed

  • Thursday 29th October 2015, 8:13pm [Edited]
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 5,497 posts

I always think the sound of a ticking clock on radio to denote the passing of time is very harmonious with that technology. Let the producer worry about it though and concentrate on the dialogue would be my view. Having "looks forlorn" won't help much on radio.