Laugh Lessons, a BBC Three commission, launched Thursday 17th June featuring five comedy sketches from North East talent who have been supported through a unique project between Northern Film + Media, North East Comedy Hot House and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).
North East Comedy Hot House (NECHH) were awarded one of four national commissions from the BBC earlier this year to support producers to deliver Laugh Lessons. Laugh Lessons is a BBC Three and BBC Comedy Association collaboration which has seen four production companies across the UK produce up to five three-minute comedy sketches each, with a particular focus on providing new opportunities to diverse and underrepresented comedy voices, with an emphasis on discovering new onscreen and behind the camera talent.
The commissioned sketches involve new behind the camera talent, James Craggs and Emma Roxburgh. This is the second win for James’ company, Motif, having already won an RTS North East and Borders Comedy Award in 2020. Emma is developing into one of the region’s top development producer/directors and was part of the BFI’s Network Weekender earlier this year.
Laugh Lessons comes hot on the heels of NECHH winning the prestigious international Makers and Shakers award for Initiative to Grow Local Industry.
Emma Lawson, Co-founder of NECHH and leading industry exec, said,
“Collaboration is never easy, but we can certainly celebrate what we’ve achieved by championing James Craggs and Motif, and Emma Roxburgh to develop the slates for Laugh Lessons.
‘Being able to empower local companies, bringing people together and encouraging collaboration has seen this local talent flourish, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next in line for these guys.”
Speaking of being awarded the commission, James Craggs, Managing Director of MOTIF said,
“The BBC provides a hallmark of quality for any production company it is associated with, so to be able to point towards a commission from them within our first year of existence is something we never dreamed of. It’s propelled us forward as a company far faster than we expected and given us the confidence and the chance to pitch for bigger things, something we didn’t think was possible just yet.”
The North East LEP provided funding support through the Cluster Development Fund for NECCH to create a broadcast scripted comedy cluster to boost the local industry and provide more opportunities to start-up production companies. NECHH is an industry facing co-production and development initiative that offers a safe space for fledgling companies, writers, performers, directors and producers. By working directly with broadcasters and larger Indies in this new co-commissioning model, NECHH is able to provide a new talent pipeline via a safe pair of hands by taking overall responsibility for practical delivery and a level of editorial quality. Since launching in September 2019, NECHH has secured over £100,000 worth of entry level broadcast commissions, collaborated with seven start-up production companies, provided employment opportunities to over 160 regional cast and crew, and kept 96% of the total spend in the North East.
Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said,
“The Cluster Development Fund was launched during the pandemic to provide assistance to clusters in our region impacted by COVID-19; providing the necessary support for sectors to recover. The success of North East Comedy Hot House is a great example of the fund in action.
“Thanks to the investment from the North East LEP, Gateshead-based MOTIF was able to pitch for and win a significant BBC commission, helping raise the profile of the region’s film and television sector.
“The Cluster Development Fund is supporting TV, film and production companies in the region to think big and create a sustainable industry in the North East that can create jobs and opportunities for those working in the creative sectors. By investing in the talent that exists in our region, we can retain and benefit from those valuable skills.”
Speaking of the support she received, Emma Roxburgh said,
“Since my involvement with NECHH I’ve felt incredibly well supported and have been given space to play, learn and grow. Producing two of the Laugh Lessons and directing one, enabled me to really use my previous script development skills.
“It has been great working with regional writer/performer talent on their first broadcast credit alongside outstanding regional crew, and I can’t wait to see more North East talent coming through and smashing it.”
Alison Gwynn, CEO of NFM said,
“It’s been great to witness the impact of the project, with both Motif and Emma Roxburgh now developing bigger broadcast projects.
“This is only just the start. There is so much more in the pipeline, and we wouldn’t have been able to have achieved this without the support from the North East LEP.”
NECHH is in a really strong position heading into the later stages of 2021, with a strong network of North East businesses and agencies all focused on broadcast comedy development. There is also an exciting new partnership with an award-winning production company to uncover more North East talent and products ready to break into national and global markets.
To view each of the five Laugh Lessons, click the links below.