BBC to invest an extra £10 million in comedy programming

The BBC will invest an extra £10 million in high-impact comedy programming over the next two years, Jon Petrie, Director of Comedy, revealed while speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival in Newcastle.

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Jon Petrie

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The BBC will invest an extra £10 million in high-impact comedy programming over the next two years, Jon Petrie, Director of Comedy, revealed while speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival in Newcastle, the current City of Comedy.

Petrie announced that BBC Comedy will double the number of half hour pilots made and will continue to remain the biggest investor in comedy in the UK. Moreover, BBC Comedy and BBC Sounds are going to co-commission up to four audio comedy pilots. “Our aim is to work with new and emerging performers on crafting comedy characters or personas that have the potential to be developed further for BBC Comedy and/or BBC Sounds,”  the executive said.

Meanwhile, BBC Comedy Short Films will launch in June, consolidating current short form strands to create a space for both new and established talent to experiment and develop new work. “Short Films are designed to give writers, producers and directors an opportunity to bring their comedy ideas to life and be showcased on BBC platforms,”  Petrie said.

Furthermore, it was announced that current writing bursaries are expanding into the BBC Comedy Bursary Collective, that will also give up and coming comedy directors and producers a place to hone their craft. “We will be reopening submissions for the existing Writing Bursaries plus launching brand new Producer and Director Bursaries all under a BBC Comedy Bursary Collective later this year,”  BBC’s Director of Comedy explained.

Also during the BBC Comedy Festival it was announced that Mawaan Rizwan’s comedy pilot “Juice” has been taken to series; Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones will return for a “Detectorists” special; Jack Whitehall is bringing back “Bad Education” with a 10-year anniversary special followed by new six-part series; comedians Jack Carroll and Tom Gregory will bring new short form comedy “Mobility”; and hit series “Jerk,” “The Cleaner” and “Guilt” have all been re-commissioned.

“BBC Comedy is doing phenomenally well. Last year, iPlayer had 538 million requests for comedy shows. The BBC is by far the biggest fish in the pond when it comes to comedy. There is no other broadcaster that can provide as many services. The BBC remains the best place to develop and nurture new comic voices,”  Jon Petrie declared.

The BBC is by far the biggest fish in the pond when it comes to comedy” Jon Petrie Director of Comedy at BBC