Catherine Brinkworth and Kat Sadler are next BBC bursary writers

Image shows from L to R: Catherine Brinkworth, Kat Sadler

Catherine Brinkworth and Kat Sadler have been named as the recipients of the BBC Radio Comedy Writer's Bursary.

BBC Studios announced the news as it celebrates 40 years of The Radio Comedy Writer's Bursary, which gives two new writers each year the chance to secure a contract to write for a year across a variety of audio comedy shows.

Over the years the bursary has helped launch the careers of writers such as Guy Jenkin (Outnumbered and Drop The Dead Donkey), Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (Red Dwarf) and Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche (The Thick Of It and Veep).

Embedded within the Radio Comedy team in BBC Studios, the writers have an opportunity to work on everything from high profile BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra shows such as The News Quiz, The Now Show and Newsjack, to sketch shows, panel games and stand-up strands and podcasts. They will also pitch ideas for their own series.

The scheme was devised in 1978 by legendary comedy producer David Hatch and BBC Television's then Head of Light Entertainment, Jimmy Gilbert. The aim was to give new writers a one year contract to work across whatever shows were in production, enabling them to give up their day job and make the move into full time professional writing.

The first recipients of the bursary were Rory McGrath, Jimmy Mulville and Guy Jenkin and since then the scheme has given early opportunities to 81 writers.

Writer, and winner of two Primetime Emmy Awards, Simon Blackwell says: "Without The BBC Radio Comedy Writer's Bursary I wouldn't be writing comedy for a living today. I didn't start writing until I was in my thirties, when we already had two kids. At that crucial point in my career the bursary allowed me to go part-time in my day job and free up time to write for a number of BBC Radio shows. It's a fantastic scheme and I feel very fortunate to have benefited from it."

Writer and podcaster Danielle Ward, whose credits range from Do The Right Thing to Dangermouse and bursary writer in 2007 comments: "Being awarded the bursary allowed me to give up my office job and become a comedian full time. Without it I'm not sure I'd have ever made that leap. I learned a lot very quickly and made some brilliant contacts and friends, many of whom I still work with today."

Guy Jenkin says: "It's a great kick start to a comedy career. Good luck to the latest recipients."

This year two new writers will join the list - Kat Sadler and Catherine Brinkworth. The BBC notes "Whilst women have been recipients of the bursary for more than twenty years, this is the first year all recipients are women." The duo will write across BBC radio comedy shows in 2019.

Kat Sadler is a writer, actor and stand-up, who is also the editor and creative director of Succubus, a satirical women's magazine. In the last few years, she has performed stand up on BBC Radio 4 Extra, been a semi-finalist in the Chortle Student Comedy Award and written and performed in her own sitcom, which was selected for So You Think You Write Funny in 2016.

Kat says: "I feel incredibly lucky to have been chosen for the bursary. I am so excited to get cracking on such a brilliant opportunity alongside the supremely talented Catherine. This time last year I was sitting in my pyjamas writing stupid jokes on Twitter. I mean, I'm still doing that, but now I've also got a job at the BBC."

Catherine Brinkworth is a radio presenter and writer with an interest in reggae and dancehall. She has contributed to the long running BBC Radio 4 Extra series Newsjack, as well as BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and The Now Show.

Catherine says: "I'm happily surprised and unbelievably thrilled to have got the bursary, it's an incredible opportunity to learn, and spend even more time eating snacks with Kat than usual".

Julia McKenzie, Head of BBC Studios Radio Comedy, comments: "The Radio Comedy Bursary really is an exceptional opportunity for writers to learn how to write across a variety of shows and formats and make career changing relationships with a range of producers and talent. There is no better way to hone your craft than to write daily and this bursary pays the writers to do just that, often to demanding deadlines. Being on the inside of a multi-faceted global content company such as BBC Studios also offers rare access and if this year's writers take full advantage of that, it will be the push that launches them into a career of writing for a living."

Full List of recipients of The Radio Comedy Writer's Bursary

1978: Rory McGrath, Jimmy Mulville, Guy Jenkin

1979: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor, Martin Bergman

1980: Jon Canter, Angus Deayton, Tony Sarchet

1982: James Hendrie, Eddie Canfor-Dunne, David Jackson Young

1983: John Collee, Roger Planer

1984: Jack Docherty, Moray Hunter

1985: Malcolm Williamson, Stuart Silver, Alan Whiting

1986: Steve Punt, David Bond, Paul Hawksbee

1987: Mike Coleman, Bill Matthews, Ged Parsons, Les Peters Rowley

1988: John O'Farrell, Mark Burton

1989: Peter Kerry, Simon Bullivant, Mark Brisenden

1990: Peter Baynham, Barry Atkins

1991: Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Robert Steele, Julian Dutton

1992: Clive Coleman, Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil

1993: Rob Colley, Paul Powell, Millie Murray, Georgia Pritchett

1994: Dan Gaster, Andrew Clifford, Debbie Barham, Hugh Rycroft

1995: Will Ing, Kay Stonham

1996: Ben Ward, Dave Lamb, Tony Roche

1997: Felix Riley, Tom Jamieson

1998: Nev Fountain, Simon Blackwell

1999-2003: Scheme not run

2004: Rhodri Crooks, Paul Kerensa

2005-2006: Scheme not run

2007: Danielle Ward, Kieron Quirke

2008: James Sherwood, Stephen Carlin

2009: Gareth Gwynn, John-Luke Roberts

2010: Jon Hunter, James Kettle

2011: Benjamin Partridge, Andy Wolton

2012: Jack Bernhardt, Tom Neenan

2013: James Bugg, Grainne Maguire

2014: Gabby Hutchinson Crouch, Max Davis

2015: Sarah Campbell, Liam Beirne

2016: Robin Morgan, Jenny Laville

2017: Laura Major, Mike Shephard

2018: Catherine Brinkworth, Kat Sadler

Published: Thursday 13th December 2018
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