BBC to invest extra £10 million in comedy

Wednesday 11th May 2022, 5:30pm

Bad Education. Image shows from L to R: Fraser (Mathew Horne), Alfie (Jack Whitehall)

The BBC is set to invest an extra £10 million in "high-impact comedy programming" over the next two years.

Jon Petrie, the BBC's Director of Comedy, has laid out his plans for the future of BBC comedy in a speech to open the BBC Comedy Festival in Newcastle, a three day event featuring panel sessions for comedy creators.

The headlines include that BBC Comedy will double the number of half hour scripted television pilots made, commission audio comedy pilots with a possibility of graduating to screen in future, and re-/launch a range of initiatives to give up-and-coming comedy actors, writers directors and producers "a place to hone their craft".

Petrie also used his speech to celebrate the successes the BBC had last year and announce a number of returning series.

He said: "BBC Comedy is doing phenomenally well. Last year, iPlayer had 538 million requests for comedy shows. The BBC is by far the biggest fish in the pond when it comes to comedy. There is no other broadcaster that can provide as many services."

His announcements included:

Detectorists. Image shows from L to R: Lance Stater (Toby Jones), Andy Stone (Mackenzie Crook). Copyright: BBC

Detectorists to return

BBC Four's acclaimed comedy Detectorists is coming back to screens for a new special. The feature-length, 75 minute episode is to air later this year, updating fans of the cult hit series on the lives of its characters, five years since the end of Series 3. Full details

Bad Education. Alfie (Jack Whitehall). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions

Bad Education to return for 10th anniversary special

The hit sitcom from Jack Whitehall is to return with a tenth anniversary special, before a full fourth series debuts an all-new range of characters ... plus a couple of familiar faces as the latest hapless teachers at Abbey Grove. Full details

Juice. Image shows from L to R: Jamma (Mawaan Rizwan), Guy (Russell Tovey)

A full series of Mawaan Rizwan's Juice

Skipping the broadcast of a pilot episode produced last year, a full series of the comedy based on Rizwan's acclaimed Edinburgh Festival Fringe show is now being made. Full details

Jack Carroll

New sitcom pilot Mobility

Comedian Jack Carroll has co-written and will star in a new comedy short for BBC Three about a trio of disabled teenagers who are thrown together on the mobility bus they catch to school each day. Full details

Jerk. Tim (Tim Renkow)

Series 3 of Jerk

Tim Renkow's acclaimed comedy about a man with cerebral palsy will return for a full-length six episode series. Full details

The Cleaner. Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead (Greg Davies)

The Cleaner Series 2

As previously reported by British Comedy Guide, Greg Davies sitcom The Cleaner was also confirmed as returning for six more episodes.

Greg Davies says: "It was such a pleasure bringing Wicky and his gory career to life and I'm beyond thrilled we get to do it again. So thrilled that I intend not to mention how sweaty that hazmat suit gets under lighting. Put it like this, we had to burn it. Anyway, I'm still excited, thanks BBC."

Guilt. Image shows from L to R: Jake McCall (Jamie Sives), Max McCall (Mark Bonnar). Copyright: Happy Tramp Productions

Guilt Series 3

Award-winning comedy drama Guilt will return for a third and final series. Writer and executive producer Neil Forsyth will bring brothers Max (Mark Bonnar) and Jake (Jamie Sives) together again "for one final adventure full of the trademark twists and turns that the series has become famed for".

The second series ended with Max joining Jake in Chicago having left a trail of deception behind him. As they return to Scotland, it becomes apparent the welcome they receive isn't as warm or as straightforward as they might have hoped. As they battle threats both old and new, it remains to be seen whether they get the happy ending they crave or whether life conspires against them one more time.

Commenting on the recommission, writer Neil Forsyth said: "We always saw Guilt as a trilogy so I am thrilled to be writing a final act for Max, Jake and some of the others we have met along the way. It is a story that will range from Chicago to Scotland, as our characters seek a final redemption."

BBC Comedy Festival

More pilots / short films / bursaries

Announcements relevant to comedy creators include that fewer, if any, pilots will be made for the public to see, with the scripted comedy commissioning team instead teaming with BBC Sounds to co-commission up to four audio comedy pilots, aiming to develop comedies and characters that could in future graduate to screen.

The BBC will also consolidate existing published short form strands "to create one streamlined and targeted approach to the development of our short-form comedy content", and reopening submissions for the existing writing bursaries plus launching brand new producer and director bursaries, now under a single BBC Comedy Bursary Collective, later this year.

Full details on BCG Pro

Read Jon Petrie's full speech

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