This morning the BBC’s head of comedy commissioning Shane Allen announced the launch of The BBC Comedy Association in order to boost comedy output, support creators and discover new talent.
Established and new comedy talent schemes and bursaries will be brought under the umbrella of the Comedy Association, including the Caroline Aherne and Felix Dexter bursaries. The Association is also introducing a Young People’s Comedy Laureate, a role that will be selected by a committee of performers, commissioners, agents and producers in a bid to encourage young people to write and perform comedy.
The New Comedy Awards will have additional categories for under 18s and social media entries, with the live BBC One final of the awards forming the centrepiece of the BBC Comedy Festival, a brand new event which will celebrate the cultural contribution comedy makes to the UK. The festival will feature a range of showcases, workshops and screenings and take place in 2021’s City of Comedy.
Shane Allen said: “Laughter is one of life’s great joys – it unites and connects us, benefits mental health and defines our national character. Yet British comedy is facing unprecedented challenges.
“The events of the last nine months have decimated the live comedy scene which is the lifeblood of TV comedy. Careers have been cut short, avenues to new talent are drying up and new voices are being denied of a crucial platform to reach audiences.
“As the country’s pre-eminent supporter of comedy the BBC is uniquely placed to take on the challenges we face. The BBC Comedy Association will take a proactive approach to level the playing field by throwing vital lifelines to emerging talent.
“One of the BBC Comedy Association’s core purposes is to promote inclusion and representation on and off-screen, with a commitment to engage and enable a new wave of comedic talent. We will open up new platforms to budding comedy performers and writers. We aim to demystify what production entails and create more paths to entry across the comedy industry, making television a viable career option for a whole new generation.”