07 Aug 2018

The Monster You Know

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If you’d been as lucky as me (or not) to have been invited to attend a big BBC gathering in 2012 in Manchester to discuss the future of TV comedy, you would have discovered from the then controller of BBC1 that what they were looking for, more than anything, was sitcoms “featuring monsters, and larger-than-life characters.”
 

02 Aug 2018

Can You Make A Drama Out Of A Comedy?

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A few weeks ago BBC Writersroom held their annual TV Drama Festival – which for the first time became the TV Drama and Comedy Festival. It felt like a significant moment for us, an acknowledgment that the embarrassing uncle they don’t normally talk about who farts in the corner should be allowed a seat at the big table.
 
The keynote guest was Steven Moffat, a writer who has enjoyed considerable success across both genres, a writer whose sitcoms were always full of dramatic action, and who can’t help but bring wit and humour to even the darkest episodes of his TV drama.

31 Jul 2018

Day 2: About That Idea...

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Where do you start?
 
We have to begin with the myth about ideas and stealing. No matter how many times I write this, I still get asked the same questions. Briefly:
 
Anyone can have a good idea Omid Djalili had a great idea about movie extras, that was going to be made right up to the point when Ricky Gervais decided that his follow-up to The Office would be a sitcom about movie extras.
 
Anyone can have an unoriginal idea Two blokes sharing a flat is not original, but Peep Show was.
 

30 Jul 2018

Day One: I've Got A Great Idea

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You've watched the videos, attended the writing seminars, read the blogs and heard the advice. Don't worry at this stage about getting an agent, or someone nicking your idea. All you have to do to become a professional writer is... write a brilliant script.
 

27 Jul 2018

MAKING PLANS: Topical Comedy For Radio Day 5*

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Topical comedy gag writers are among the most sought after professionals in comedy writing. I can only think of about ten people who have kept at it successfully and consistently in the 35 years or so I've been doing this. I did it for about 20 years and even spent a few of them in the Premier Division, but in football terms I was not so much Manchester City as Hull City.
 
But in those many enjoyable hours spent writing for News Quiz, and Have I Got News For You, I picked up a few hints about how to write topical jokes.
 

25 Jul 2018

MAKING PLANS: Topical Comedy For Radio Day 4*

dave's picture

You've written your sketches. You've rewritten your sketches. You've stared at them for hours wondering if they're even remotely funny. You've lost your critical faculties. And now you have to send your sketches off. 
 
Accepting for now that your script is probably not quite 100 per cent perfect, it would be great to look at this check list before you press send, and hope to have answered yes to all the following questions:
Do you have a very strong ‘what if’ premise?
Do you have two, possibly three characters, at least one female?

25 Jul 2018

MAKING PLANS Topical Comedy For Radio Day 3*

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Yesterday you came up with your ideas for sketches. Hopefully by today you have whittled them down to a couple of strong ideas.
 

24 Jul 2018

MAKING PLANS Topical Comedy for Radio Day 2*

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How do you come up with ideas for comedy sketches. If you want to write for Newsjack you're allowed to send two sketches a week to the show.
 
Here’s an example of the template for what you send to Newsjack when your script is ready to go. They’ve shown an actual sketch to give you an idea of what your submission looks like. And it’s useful because it gives you a sense of what’s likely to get accepted: It’s not a big headline story but a nice quirky one, and there are lots of funny jokes:

22 Jul 2018

MAKING PLANS FOR 19 Topical comedy writing day 1

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Do you think you could become a topical comedy writer?
 
First, let me put you off. The answer is almost certainly no. There are a number of perfectly straightforward reasons why the chances of this happening are slim.
 

20 Jul 2018

MAKING PLANS FOR 19

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MAKING PLANS FOR 19
Fed up with the constant grind of daily life?
Bored with blogs about writing that begin with a series of rhetorical questions?...
Deterred by the doom merchants (like me) who keep telling you it’s getting harder than ever to sell your comedy script?
Ever feel like there’s never enough time to do anything?
40 minutes just whizzed by browsing through social media?
 

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