Newcastle named BBC's first City Of Comedy

Thursday 23rd September 2021, 9:29am by Ian Wolf

  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne will be the BBC's first City Of Comedy
  • BBC Comedy will host masterclasses and events in city to develop talent
  • Newcastle will also host the final for the 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards, due to be broadcast on BBC One

The BBC has revealed that Newcastle-upon-Tyne will be the corporation's first City Of Comedy.

As part of an announcement outlining a series of investments the BBC is making in the North East of England, the corporation confirmed: "BBC Comedy will host a series of masterclasses and events across the North East to develop new talent and skills while Newcastle will be the BBC's first City Of Comedy and will host this year's New Comedy Awards."

Along with this, the broadcaster confirmed that BBC Radio 4 will bring one of the annual Reith Lectures to the North East later this year, and the station will "record a new comedy series in the region."

The BBC Comedy Association was announced in December 2020. The details included that the BBC will annually name a City Of Comedy, in which it will hold a BBC Comedy Festival.

They said at the time: "The live BBC One final of the New Comedy Awards will form the centrepiece of the BBC Comedy Festival, a brand new event that will celebrate the cultural contribution comedy makes to the UK. The festival will feature a range of showcases, workshops and screenings."

They also added: "The BBC Comedy Festival will be a gathering of the British comedy industry, and those looking to become a part of it, creating the opportunity to advance our collective creativity and discuss and debate the issues of the day. The full programme of events will be curated by the Young Person's Comedy Laureate and will feature talent-led talks, panels, screenings and the live BBC One broadcast final of the New Comedy Awards."

The BBC is aiming spend at least £25 million over the next five years across the North East. The measures will also see them producing new daytime and early peak factual programmes, recording two series of BBC One documentary Ambulance in the area, and creating 70 digital jobs with a new tech hub based in Newcastle.

The BBC's Director-General, Tim Davie, said in a statement: "This is a really exciting day for the BBC and I hope for the whole of the North East too. I'm proud we've been able to partner with so many organisations from right across the region. And what's clear is the ambition and determination to make the North East a major centre for the creative industries and we want to play an important part in making that happen. We want to see more BBC content coming from the North East and a BBC that's much more active and visible in the region. It's time to get on with that work."

The BBC New Comedy Award final is expected to be filmed in the first week of November. The heats are due to take place between late-September and mid-October, around the UK. The first show is scheduled for Monday (27th September) in London, with heats in Swansea (30th September), Wolverhampton (3rd October), Halifax (5th October), Dundee (10th October) and Portrush (12th October) following on from that.

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