BBC Director of Comedy Jon Petrie today announced the 10 recipients of a supercharged bursary scheme – the BBC Comedy Collective – for up-and-coming writers, producers and directors to develop their careers further in scripted comedy.
Newcastle’s Benjamin Bee has been listed as one of the recipients the scheme which is committed to nurturing the next generation of comedy talent. Previous BBC comedy bursary winners have gone on to make BAFTA award-winning TV series, secure script commissions, get agents and produce radio shows.
Ben is from Newcastle. A troubled childhood meant he left school aged 14 without any qualifications. Since then he has graduated from the London Film School and is a multi-award-winning writer, whose short-form work has been long-listed twice for the BAFTA awards and screened at over 400 festivals worldwide.
In 2019, Ben was selected as a Screen International Star of Tomorrow, and is currently in development on his first feature, Marwell, a touching, time-travel comedy-drama, without any time travel. Marwell was selected for Biennale College–Cinema, EIFF Talent Lab Connects, and is in development with the BFI Film Fund. Ben is also developing a number of projects for TV. He proudly identifies as neurodivergent and disabled.
On the announcement of the recipients of the BBC Comedy Collective, Head of Talent and Development at North East Screen, Lisa Laws said: “I’m really chuffed to see the range of North East talent considered for this opportunity, and I’m thrilled that Ben will be part of the first ever BBC Comedy Collective. Ben speaks with so much passion and enthusiasm not only for comedy, but for the North East as well.”
Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival, in Cardiff, Jon Petrie said: “Some of the best writers, producers and directors in TV and film started their careers on BBC Comedy shows and we’re committed to giving the next generation of talent their big breaks. The BBC Comedy Collective supports on and off screen talent from across the UK and will provide brilliant opportunities to our first cohort. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
Each bursary winner will receive up to £10k worth of paid shadowing on a BBC Comedy production, along with an allocated production mentor, plus a £5k development grant to put towards new material at the end of their placement. They will also have a dedicated point of contact within the BBC Comedy Commissioning team to help guide them through their year, as well as access to the Comedy Collective representatives.
The BBC Comedy Collective comprises of estate representatives, Geoff Schuman and Paul Whitehouse (for Felix Dexter), Tessa Le Bars and the Galton Family (for Galton & Simpson), Lucy Ansbro (for Caroline Aherne) plus the new producer and director representatives, Ash Atalla and Christine Gernon, alongside the alumni of previous BBC bursary winners.
The Collective will work in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, BBC Scotland and BBC Wales, with the support of BBC Writersroom, BBC History, BBC Academy, BAFTA and a range of screen agencies including North East Screen and Creative Wales.