British Comedy Guide

Newsjack Series 23 - September 2020

Newsjack. Copyright: BBC.

Newsjack

Topical satirical sketch show on Radio 4 Extra. The programme has an 'open door' policy allowing anyone to submit material

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Piggler

  • Monday 7th September 2020, 2:13pm
  • Somewhere in the, United Kingdom
  • 17 posts

Submissions for the new Newsjack series open Friday 18th September. Good luck everyone!

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Jaicee

  • Tuesday 8th September 2020, 2:48pm
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • 222 posts

Bet you a thousand quid I don't get anything used on it . C'est la vie !

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Tiggy

  • Tuesday 8th September 2020, 11:55pm
  • Reading, England
  • 188 posts

I tend to do weird rather than topical, but I'll give it a go.

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Michael Monkhouse

  • Thursday 10th September 2020, 8:24am
  • Eternal City, Italy
  • 5,306 posts
Quote: Jaicee @ 8th September 2020, 2:48 PM

Bet you a thousand quid I don't get anything used on it . C'est la vie !

Remember: Each rejection is just one step closer. To the next rejection.

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Bonzo

  • Thursday 10th September 2020, 11:42am
  • London, England
  • 834 posts

Statistically though, you are 100% more likely to get a credit if you submit stuff, than if you don't. And even if you don't get stuff on, everything is read and you might well be hovering around the "almost" end. :)

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Jaicee

  • Thursday 10th September 2020, 2:39pm
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • 222 posts

I do submit stuff at times but for me it's a hard one to get the tone right . Also , it probably doesn't help that I'm not a fan of the show . Caught the end of Alexei Sayle's show before it a few times and that blew it out of the water every time . Sheer class!

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swerytd

  • Tuesday 15th September 2020, 11:08am [Edited]
  • Guildford, England
  • 7,526 posts

For those that don't know/are new to Newsjack, I tend to bung in a big long massive post with loads of NJ resources in them once per series thread. This is it.

THE CONTENT HAS NOT BEEN UPDATED SINCE SERIES 19, so there are probably a few idiosyncrasies that are not completely up-to-date, however, most of it is still relevant/interesting if you're writing for the show. I don't know how many of the links still work but if they do, they're invaluable.

Anything new you find particularly helpful somewhere, DM me and I'll update this post.

Hopefully it's useful to someone somewhere

Dan

========================================================
Newsjack is back this week, apparently.

Here's a very long post of resources, if anyone's still interested.

This is cut'n'paste from the previous time. It may not all be relevant (or even work).

Here's the usual 'trying-to-put-the-useful-stuff-all-in-one-post' post...

(Any genuinely useful links anyone else has, PM me and I'll add)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Newsjack is hard! For a variety of reasons, it is much more difficult to get stuff on now than on earlier series and is probably one of the most difficult bits of your comedy career. If you get stuff in the script (even if it's not recorded/broadcast) that is enough to chase up the producers for other opps/your sitcom. Cultivating the producer relationship is the bit that's really important if you want to write comedy professionally, not getting stuff broadcast week-after-week (though obviously that does help). Once you're on producers' 'lists', being able to submit to stuff is easier (as said lists are much smaller, and you can submit much more than 2 sketches and 6 one-liners). However, that does not mean you are guaranteed to get stuff on, just the opportunity to get more personal rejections!

Also, make sure you've written your hit sitcom before you have kids. Trust me...

Probably (not necessarily!) all still valid from last time.

Anyway...

I will try edit this list as more relevant stuff becomes available/people post additional things, so it's all in a single place.

Submission Guidelines for Series 23 Everything in the link above supercedes anything I've put below, as the below is mostly historic things from the last few series mish-mashed all together.

Number-Crunchers has been replaced by Newsjackpedia. (See guidelines above)

Week 5 is the notoriously 'slow' week, when submissions drop off cos everyone's pissed off with rejection by then and doesn't bother submitting. By that I mean there are still many, many submissions, just not as many as the many, many, many of other weeks. That week is when, statistically, your best odds for getting something on. Write your best sketch that week.

Our very/Sitcom Geek's own Dave Cohen has a day-by-day blog of writing for Newsjack http://davecohen.org.uk/making-plans-newsjack-day-2 (there are others but I can't find an index for all of them. Change the number at the end for the consecutive ones (there is no 'Day 1' version, I don't think)

Sitcom Geeks podcast say lots and lots about Newsjack, including interviews with Angela Barnes (ep 70), the commissioned writers (ep 69) and more. They mention it. A lot. A lot. Look through the history of episodes and listen to them.

Video of Nish giving tips about submitting.

First deadline is the Monday before broadcast (10th) at 12noon for sketches (2 each per show this series) and 12noon on Tuesday for one-liners .

Tip: put an intro to the sketch and put a gag in that intro. Make the gag in the intro different to the gags in the sketch; otherwise you're just proving that you can do your gag a lot shorter.

Two pages is the ideal length. The readers admit to getting bored after that.

Similarly, two people chatting in a sketch is boring for the readers, so may not progress. Get a third character in so the sketch goes an unexpected way.

Below, I've tried to collate a lot of helpful (or unhelpful: delete as applicable) information.

Newsjack Twitter Feed: They may update this as the recording nears if they need particular one-liners on a breaking topic.

Ed Morrish's what and how to write for Newsjack. He doesn't produce it anymore, but this is the one thing you should read, if nothing else below.

Lyndsay Fenner's blogs about how they make Newsjack: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/posts/How-we-make-BBC-Radio-4-Extras-Newsjack http://www.ideastap.com/ideasmag/the-knowledge/newsjack-producer-lyndsay-fenner-open-door-radio-comedy

List of helpful videos from the staff about script editing, the writers' meeting, etc. Script Editor Jack Bernhardt talks about writing The cast talk about which voices they like doing The Show What You Wrote's 'Tips for Writers' video; a lot of which is relevant to writing any radio comedy sketches

Ed Morrish's advice on jackapps and one-liners. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kvs8r/features/one-liners

Radio comedy writer James Cary's advice on why you should write for Newsjack(he script-edited other radio shows but is not affiliated with Newsjack)

Have I Got News For You, 15-Minute Musical and Weekending writer Dave Cohen's advice

Here's series 7's 'One Liner Rejects' thread, if people want to read them to get in the mood. Here's series 8's one and series 9's one.

Lots of sketches available in 'Critique' forum to study/see what's wrong/rip-off. Majority will show up in a search for 'NJ:' to get the majority of them in a list.

The last webchat with the crew is available on the link at the top, as are other blogs by other writers.

Justin Edwards talks about the process

Here's a writer's experience of what could happen (in an ideal situation, which happened for her!) http://mums-the-nerd.tumblr.com/post/40292001463/im-coming-over-all-topical-panel-show

And Gabby Hutchinson-Crouch's (now an in-house writer!) fast track 'How To Write For Newsjack' advice.

Here's Alakazam's most excellent 'Prince Albert's Shins' sketch that was broadcast (along with production edits) from last series. And StephenM's 'Billy Footballer'.

Here's Ian's 'how they edited my sketch' sketch (from series 4, I think): https://www.comedy.co.uk/forums/thread/20167/

Here's (former) script editor Gareth Gwynn's blog on comm/non-comm submissions.

Here's a series 6 webchat, with links to three previous (series 5) webchats below it and here: series 5 webchat 1, series 5 webchat 2, series 5 webchat 3

Simon Paul Miller's 'Confessions of a Newsjack Addict'

Formatting:
Instead of us all arguing about formatting, as that repeats here more than Last of the Summer Wine, the producer have kindly supplied templates on the submissions page. Use whatever they put here.

(OLD NOTE ABOUT FORMATTING THAT IS WORTH KEEPING IN FOR REFERENCE, BUT ISN'T RELEVANT SINCE THEY PROVIDED A TEMPLATE PRIMARILY TO SATISFY IDIOTS WHO HAVE BOUGHT INTO THE APPLE ECOSYSTEM)

Formatting: here's a template for the sketches in Google Docs if you don't have/want to use Word. Unfortunately Google Docs has changed so you have to download in .docx rather than .doc and I don't know if that's compatible with the BBC yet. (I write in G-Docs, download then convert in Word to 'old-fashioned' .doc format

quote from Mr Feeoree on January 17 2013, 10:10 PM GMT
Also people, further to Mr Sweryt's post with the template, here's a blog that Dan Tetsell (the then Script Editor) wrote 3 years back, re formatting and how much they like it to look proper! : http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/writersroom/2010/01/newsjack_script_smart_or_smart.shtml /quote
This is the blog that *everyone* at the BBC (and even external prodcos) refer to when asking for radio submissions, so use it. The instructions are written down for you, and there is a link to a copyable/downloadable Google Drive version above that does the same thing, if you don't have Word, and allows you to still send in a Word doc, and I reiterate, even if you don't have Word. As a script editor of an open submissions show myself (and the one who usually painfully puts the final script together), CAN YOU PLEASE USE THIS EFFING TEMPLATE, FOR GOD'S SAKE! It is a massive pain in the arse to have to change your formatting, if it's not like this.

Marc Paterson's pain in writing for Newsjack is very similar to my experience over the weekend. (He wrote this in the run-up to series 7)

Twitter vibe from the producers in series 8 episode 1 was that there are a lot of idiots who don't put their name or email address in their one-liner submissions. Try to avoid this, as angry producers notoriously don't find things funny.

Here are some very good blogs from our own Mr Salisbury about 'The Killer Premise', 'Things to Consider Whilst Drafting' and 'Sketches Need Characters' . Newsjack went reasonably well for him in series 7 so listen to his wise words. David also has a very useful list of what NOT to write for Newsjack.

Let the fun and games (read: 'rejection and hair-pulling') commence...

Dan

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Bonzo

  • Tuesday 15th September 2020, 12:33pm
  • London, England
  • 834 posts

Thanks Dan :)

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Piggler

  • Thursday 17th September 2020, 11:11am
  • Somewhere in the, United Kingdom
  • 17 posts

Ah, I see it's still just the Breaking News and Good Week/Bad Week for one-liners. Was hoping for perhaps a new third category as well.

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TheKingLobotomy

  • Sunday 20th September 2020, 10:12am
  • England
  • 184 posts

Do they annouce anywhere who the cast is going to be before recording the show?

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Inkmonkey

  • Sunday 20th September 2020, 4:47pm
  • United Kingdom
  • 1 posts

This is a stupid question, but I submitted a few things to Newsjack years ago and they've changed the sample sketch format since then - on the latest template there's a 'insert news story reference/relevant link here' line in capital letters, and below that is the sketch title.

Does that just mean they want an introduction dialogue sentence or two first, and then the sketch itself starts? The example sketch on the same page doesn't do it that way, and it seems weird that the title is where it is on the template, but maybe that's how it's always been and I've forgotten.

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Piggler

  • Sunday 20th September 2020, 7:22pm [Edited]
  • Somewhere in the, United Kingdom
  • 17 posts
Quote: Inkmonkey @ 20th September 2020, 4:47 PM

on the latest template there's a 'insert news story reference/relevant link here' line in capital letters, and below that is the sketch title.

Does that just mean they want an introduction dialogue sentence or two first, and then the sketch itself starts? The example sketch on the same page doesn't do it that way, and it seems weird that the title is where it is on the template, but maybe that's how it's always been and I've forgotten.

Yeah, just came here to ask that myself. On the website's example, there's the "INTRO: ---" bit under the sketch title. Also, the automatic text font and size underneath the "insert news story/relevant link here" is different to that of the rest of the script.

Last time I tried writing sketches for the show in series 21, I wrote the intro under the "Insert --- here" bit. However, I never got any sketches on. It would be nice to blame this formatting issue, rather than rubbish writing.

Does anyone who's got on the show know the answer?

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Wishus

  • Monday 21st September 2020, 12:57pm
  • Northampton, England
  • 141 posts

I've been running tight to deadlines all week, but wanted to get at least a sketch in today. Then, hubby insisted I come and watch the breaking news headlines with Witty and Vallance today, which was you know, news, but it was right before I needed to click send.So I have missed the news link off, and I'm not at all happy with the end. But I'm pleased with a lot of it. On with the oneliners then!

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TheKingLobotomy

  • Monday 21st September 2020, 8:46pm
  • England
  • 184 posts

Anyone know if the new series being recorded without or with a socially distanced audience?