The inaugural BBC Comedy Festival will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne, BBC’s first City of Comedy. Plus North East Regional Partnership Scheme announced.

Newcastle upon Tyne, the first BBC City of Comedy, will host the BBC’s first Comedy Festival for indie producers, anyone with a new career in TV and comedy, and people looking to break into or advance their career in the industry.

A series of events will take place across three days from Wednesday 11th – Friday 13th May 2022 to explore, reflect on and celebrate comedy in the UK.

The Festival will take place across a number of venues in Newcastle including Northern Stage, Live Theatre, The Stand and The Everyman.

Speakers include Charlie Brooker, Frankie Boyle, Greg Davies, Megan Ganz, Stephen Merchant, Romesh Ranganathan, the cast of Ghosts, Tom Marshall and many more including North East Screen’s very own North East Comedy Hot House team!

Some of the biggest comedy names are confirmed to attend including Charlie Brooker, Greg Davies, Jamie Demetriou, Megan Ganz, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Romesh Ranganathan, Stephen Merchant, Tim Renkow, Kat Sadler, Adjani Salmon, and Holly Walsh – plus the casts of BBC hits – Ghosts and The Outlaws.

The festival will be made up of talent-led talks, panels, screenings, a short film night, live comedy, and the premier of The Outlaws series 2, the biggest new BBC Comedy to launch last year.

The BBC Comedy Commissioning team, BBC Writersroom and BBC Young Reporters will also be in attendance at this brand-new event, which will bring the UK comedy production community together, alongside industry heavyweights including Ash Atalla (The Office), Gill Isles (Car Share), Tom Marshall (Ted Lasso), Christine Gernon (Gavin and Stacy, New Girl), plus representatives from American broadcasters.

BBC Director of Comedy, Jon Petrie, will kick off the festival alongside Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s Chief Content Officer, on Wednesday 11th May. Jon will be setting out his vision for BBC Comedy and highlighting commissioning opportunities to the comedy production community.

Thursday 12th May will be an industry focused day consisting of a range of panels and talks, and on Friday 13th May there will be sessions for anyone with a new career in TV and comedy, and people looking to break into or advance their career in the industry.

Petrie says: “We are excited to be coming to Newcastle, the BBC’s first City of Comedy, to celebrate comedy in all its forms and to outline BBC Comedy’s vision for the genre in 2022 and beyond. WE are committed to nurturing, developing and collaborating with comedy enthusiasts across the UK, to ensure comedy remains a staple part of our British culture.”

A selection of the festival’s panels and events will be opened up for the public to attend, and the free tickets will be made available in due course once the schedule has been announced.

All sessions are free – but do get down early to secure your seats in the sessions on the day.

BBC Comedy is also announcing today that they will be piloting a brand-new Regional Partnership Scheme, co-funded with North East Screen, pairing a North East based emerging indie with a leading BBC Comedy supplier.

The aim of the scheme is to promote regional partnerships, aid portrayal and support the growth of indigenous scripted comedy supplies in an underserved and underrepresented region.

The partnership will see the companies co-develop a slate of original ideas over an initial 6-month period, to help strengthen and enhance the local talent and project development on the ground, while creating new connections and out of London opportunities.

NFM’s Chief Executive, Alison Gwynn, said:

“The BBC Comedy Festival is another great example of the BBC’s commitment to the region and will provide a welcomed boost to the North East’s comedy sector. We know that many people will benefit from the panels, talks and sessions lead by top industry professionals and will inspire and generate the future of comedy in the region.

“The Regional Partnership Scheme is part of a longer term strategy to bring knowledge, skills and networks to the talent and companies that already exist here in the North East. We are very excited to be partnering with BBC Comedy on this venture, and are delighted that the North East comedy community is going to get this level of opportunity and support.”

Further information about the established indie along with how North East companies can apply for the scheme will be announced in due course.

The North East Regional Partnership Scheme is part of the BBC’s commitment to making its biggest investment in the North East of England for decades as part of a new partnership with the region.

The BBC last year announced it will spend at least £25m over the next five years right across the North East to fund network TV production, talent development and support for the creative sector.

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