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BBC announces Galton & Simpson Bursary

Wednesday 29th April 2020, 7:00am

  • BBC Comedy has launched a new Galton & Simpson Bursary for Comedy Writing
  • The award is named in honour of Hancock's Half Hour creators Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
  • Entries are now being accepted, with script development and a £5,500 fund available
Ray Galton and Alan Simpson outside BBC TV Centre in 1970. Image shows from L to R: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson. Copyright: BBC.

BBC Comedy has announced a new writing bursary scheme in the names of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.

Best known as the creators and writers of iconic TV and radio sitcoms Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe And Son, the duo are perhaps the most celebrated in British broadcast comedy history.

Ray Galton died in October 2018, whilst Alan Simpson died in February 2017.

The BBC explain: "At a time when everyone is feeling the effects of isolation it's particularly apt to celebrate the life and work of two people who originally met in a sanatorium and went on to define what television comedy could be.

"Aimed at writers and writing partnerships, the bursary will award £5,500 to develop a script for broadcast consideration under the guidance of established industry practitioners and BBC Comedy Commissioning."

The pair met shortly after the Second World War when, as teenagers, they each developed tuberculosis and were hospitalised at Milford Sanatorium in Surrey. Bonding over their age and a shared love of American forces' radio, they soon began writing to fill time and entertain themselves.

Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy, said: "These comedy founding fathers met in adverse circumstances and went on to set the template for the modern British sitcom. Their work has endured and been appreciated for decades past and no doubt decades to come. Great comedy is often born out of adversity as the imagination sparks creative expression. This bursary is aimed at giving opportunity to new comedy voices in these trying times."

Image shows from L to R: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson.

The family of Ray Galton say: "The Galton family are proud that the BBC have decided to honour dad and Alan's achievements with this Bursary Award. They never forgot the advice and encouragement they received when starting out and were always keen to help newcomers to the profession. We hope this bursary will reflect their beliefs and their outstanding contributions to their craft, inspiring others to come forward with new ideas."

Tessa Le Bars, Galton & Simpson's manager, adds: "I am delighted that the BBC are honouring Ray and Alan's legacy with this bursary. In doing so it recognises the importance of their achievements and influence as the originators of British sitcom."

The bursary is launched as a collaboration between the BBC and the Mental Health Foundation.

The corporation explains: "Again and again, research has demonstrated that creativity can really help mental well-being by providing a channel of release and self-expression. Mental health and well-being is one of the biggest social issues of our time: one in six of us in the UK will experience mental health difficulties every week, and many more of us will experience them via family members and friends."

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Director of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "Being involved in creative activities can have a powerful and lasting effect on our wellbeing and protect our mental health. We welcome the Galton & Simpson Bursary for Comedy Writing which pays tribute to these great writers and because comedy is a wonderful way to bring people together in laughter and hope."

The bursary is open to all, whether working individually or in a partnership, working on any theme. Applicants must submit a sample script of 30 pages/30 minutes duration maximum, supported by a series development plan and a short (one page) biog/statement.

BBC Comedy will shortlist four projects for further consideration, with one final award winner having their script developed for broadcast consideration, receiving advice and input from leading industry practitioners, and a bursary of £5,500.

Sample scripts, series plans and biography/statements should be submitted to Galton&Simpson.Bursary@bbc.co.uk. The application deadline is 5th June 2020.

Full terms and information can be found on the BBC website

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