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Shane Allen announces British Comedy Foundation venture

The BBC Controller of Comedy Shane Allen has announced plans to set up a British Comedy Foundation. The foundation intends to open doors to new voices and further the impact of British comedy. Allen plans to cultivate a comedy community backed advocacy group with three main purposes:

  • to engage and enable and enrich the under-represented and under-privileged
  • to be a catalytic body for industry opportunities, challenges and partnerships
  • to celebrate heritage and promote British comedy’s vital role in our cultural life

Allen says: “We need a body to give dedicated focus and nurture to this crucial part of British cultural life which captures, defines and reflects our national character, identity and soul. Our strength and weakness, all our oddity and individuality. And we are brilliant at it. We’re famous for it all over the world. From Chaplin to Python, The Office to Fleabag, our comedy travels everywhere and brings us back love and respect, friends and influence. It’s one of our greatest cultural triumphs.

“So the question I find myself asking, time and again, is: if comedy is loved and adored by audiences, why isn’t it afforded its dues to the same extent as other areas of culture?

“I want things to change. I think it’s time for the comedy industry to feel its value and exert its influence and potential throughout society. I want us to explore what a comedy foundation might look like, who it could unearth, what it could achieve and who’d get behind it. I want it to be valued as an art form and for arts body funding to be opened up to benefit comedy.”

The foundation, supported by BBC Director-General Tony Hall and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, will initially be developed by Allen over three months, from mid-April onwards.

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “British comedy is one of our greatest cultural triumphs and something the BBC is committed to for the long term. We want to lead the way in creating opportunities for new creative voices and supporting fresh talent – whether on or off screen – wherever they are and whatever their background. We believe this project will result in real benefits for the creative industries and Tony and I are very keen to support Shane in his work.”

Allen will continue in his Controller of Comedy Commissioning role while developing the foundation, with additional support from Comedy Commissioning Editor Kate Daughton, who will step up as Head of Comedy Commissioning temporarily.

Emily Allen, a member of the BBC’s Youth Panel, will also be joining Shane Allen on attachment to work on the development of the foundation.