Today BBC Radio 2 launched the BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Award 2012 - the station's annual search for a new stand-up star.
The BBC New Comedy Award initially ran from 1995 to 2005 with Alan Carr, Sarah Millican and Marcus Brigstocke amongst the finalists. Last year the award was resurrected with a new format and, for the first time, included audience interactivity. The station is now looking to continue 'finding the freshest talent while helping aspiring comics launch their careers', with Steve Wright and Patrick Kielty announcing details on air earlier today about the 2012 plans.
In total there will be eight regional heats with BBC Radio Comedy's Steve Canny and Steve Bennett, the editor of comedy website Chortle, as the two head judges. At the end of the heats there will also be a chance for members of the public to vote online for their two favourites from eight runners up chosen by the judges, who will then go through to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals will then take place in Newcastle and London on 23rd and 30th October.
The search will culminate in a live hour-long final at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool on 8th November hosted by Patrick Kielty. As was the case last year, a panel of judges will be present on the night but the Radio 2 audience will pick the winner by voting online and via SMS. Tickets will be available to purchase for all of the heats, semi-finals and the final.
This year the BBC will be facilitating Learning Workshops in each of the eight cities that are hosting the heats (Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Brighton, London) too, working closely with local communities to engage those who are interested in comedy and performance.
Last year's winner Angela Barnes (pictured) says: "It is no way an exaggeration to say that winning the BBC New Comedy Award has changed my life. A year ago, stand-up comedy was my hobby. Now it's my job! In the year since I've won I have written on my favourite radio show - The News Quiz on Radio 4 - played Latitude Festival and Laughs In The Park, and I've met Terry Wogan AND Gary Barlow! If you had told me a year ago any of those things would have happened, I would have laughed in your face. If you're umming and aahing about entering, just do it. There is really nothing to lose and everything to gain."
The winner of the 2012 BBC New Comedy Award will receive £1,000 and the chance for a commission from BBC Radio Comedy. The winner will also have the opportunity to present to networks across the BBC and appear in other slots across the BBC as well as receiving development advice and guidance from the BBC Comedy Department.
The heats will take place in the following locations:
Edinburgh on August 11th - BBC Potterrow
Leeds on August 21st - Highlight Leeds
Liverpool on August 28th - The Baby Blue Bar
Manchester on September 4th - The Comedy Store
Birmingham on September 11th - The Glee Club
Cardiff on September 18th - The Glee Club
Brighton on September 25th - Brighton Komedia
London on October 2nd - 100 Club
Entrants should apply through the Radio 2 website and, after filling in the web form, they should upload or email an mp3 of their work. Entrants must be over 18 years-old, and have been performing comedy for less than three years. The closing date for entries is the 30th of June 2012.
And here are video highlights from last year's final:
Plus, here is an audio clip of Angela Barnes performing her winning routine: