The David Nobbs Memorial Trust, established after the death of the beloved Reggie Perrin author, has launched its fourth annual sketch comedy writing competition, encouraging new talent with financial aid in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition offers cash prizes to up-and-coming comedy writers, helping them ‘buy time’ for writing.
With the comedy and arts sectors widely affected by lockdown restrictions, this year’s competition will increase the cash prize for the overall winner to £750. Any runner-up winners will receive £250. Also, for the first time, the winners will get a precious one-on-one consultation with an established comedy producer on the Trust board.
Prizes will be awarded after 18 judges from across the industry turn their expert eye on entries, which can be submitted from 26th January 2021 until 23:59 on 12th March 2021.
Lucy Lumsden, owner of Yellow Door Productions and formerly head of comedy commissioning at both Sky and the BBC, Roisin Conaty, comedian and creator of the Channel 4 sitcom, Gameface and Hunderby actor Daniel Lawrence Taylor will judge the scripts that make it to the final.
The David Nobbs Memorial Trust was established by comedy producers, performers and people who knew and loved David, with the blessing of his family, to honour his memory by supporting new comedy writing in the UK.
The contest is aimed at those early in their writing career, but it is not totally ‘open door’. Entrants must be able to provide a broadcast credit for their written material and accompany their entry with a 500-word Statement of Intent, describing their writing career goals. The winner will be announced in July 2021.
Trust chair, journalist and author Mary O’Hara said “Getting a foothold as a writer be it in sketch, book writing or sitcom can be tough at the best of times. However, with the pandemic hitting the comedy community very hard, we are more keen than ever to offer support to those starting out in their career. That is why this year, as well as a higher cash prize for our overall winner, anyone who wins a prize will also be offered a one-on-one consultation with a brilliant comedy producer from the Trust’s board.
“David Nobbs was a passionate supporter of new talent and from the huge number of entries in previous competitions, we know there is a rich pool of talent ready to make it to the next level and carry on a great comedy tradition.”
2019 winner Tom Critch said: “The last competition I won was for a Batman Forever figurine in 1996, so the bar was set pretty gosh darn high. Winning the DNMT award is such a boost to the self-belief in your scribbling, and I cannot thank the judges and the David Nobbs team enough. At times, trying to get your writing read, seen and heard feels like swimming through treacle so gems like this are hugely appreciated.
Currently, I have a six-part audio series in the works with the fine folks at Rusty Quill, as well as a dramedy series and comedy short with Highland Cow Productions and J Black Films respectively”.
2018 winner, Aidan McCafferay says: “Winning the David Nobbs Trust Memorial Comedy Writing competition has helped open doors into the comedy industry. Since I won I have met several high-profile agents and producers about the possibility of developing my winning screenplay Swipe for television. The advantage of having ‘PRIZE-WINNING SCREENPLAY’ attached to your email, especially when judged by notable industry insiders, is invaluable!”
The Trust is supported by two comedy legends and friends of David’s: Barry Cryer and Michael Palin. This year they are joined as patrons by another of David’s friends, the writer Jonathan Coe and playwright Lucy Prebble.
Coe said: “I’ve never met anyone with such a sharp, instinctive sense of comedy as David Nobbs. Comedy was in his blood and it was his way of coping with life’s manifold absurdities. Encouraging younger writers – such as myself – was an integral part of his mission to spread more laughter throughout the world, and I’m proud to have a role in that now, as a Patron of David’s Memorial Trust.”
Nobbs’ widow and Honorary President of the Trust, Susan Nobbs, added “I know that awarding a bursary to new writers, as a support at the beginning of their chosen career would have definitely appealed to David.”
Full details for the competition can be found at the Trust website: www.DavidNobbsMemorialTrust.org.uk