Television

BBC launches College of Comedy

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MUMBAI: Britain's comedy writers are backing a new "BBC College of Comedy." The scheme, which launches today (12 March), will take six writers and train them over a year by attaching them to sitcoms and sketch shows, giving each a mentor for original work, and running a series of masterclasses in all aspects of comedy writing.

Among those endorsing the scheme are Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, Bill Dare, Jeremy Dyson, Andy Hamilton, Armando Iannucci, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, Paul Mayhew-Archer, David Mitchell and Robert Webb, Susan Nickson, Simon Nye, Ian Brown, James Hendrie and Ian Pattison.

The scheme, which has financial support from BBC Worldwide, is designed for people who have already begun their careers, and can demonstrate some achievement, such as broadcast material, a script commission or performance of their work.

Applicants are being invited to submit the first ten pages of a half-hour script, or six sketches by the closing date of 14 April. Twelve writers will be interviewed, and the successful six announced on 16 May. They will then be matched with productions, and guaranteed a script commission.

They will also be given a mentor for original work, which will be showcased when the scheme ends in March 2009. There will be two residential workshops during the year, with sessions from leading writers, producers and directors.

The scheme is being run by Micheál Jacob, formerly the BBC's creative head of mainstream comedy and executive producer of My Family, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and The Smoking Room. He will combine running the college with developing and executive producing programmes.

Jacob says, "We hope to find people who are going to make our team-written shows better, and also writers with original voices who can develop their own shows. We also hope that people will like the BBC enough to bring us their work in the future."

The scheme is the brainchild of BBC's head of comedy, Mark Freeland.

He added, "I'm really excited about the launch of the scheme. I hope that we can find creative writing talent from many places, unearthing origin and diverse comedy voices."

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