Section: Comedy Hot House

The North East’s much loved Vera to end after season 14

Posted on by Jo Macleod

ITV has today announced that much loved North East drama series, Vera, will come to an end after its next season (14).

Despite the sad news today that this will be the final season of the much-loved Vera series, North East Screen is keen to celebrate what the team at Silverprint and ITV has accomplished across its 13 seasons, soon to be 14. From award nominations to ratings successes both in the UK and abroad; Vera has been an integral part of the growth of the screen industries in the North East. The impact the series has had not just on the North East screen sector, but on our region as a whole, is a true testament to everyone working on the show and at ITV to bring Ann Cleeve’s story of DCI Vera Stanhope to life.

Vera will bow out at a time when production has tripled in the region with 12 productions already confirmed to be filming in 2024 and the North East Production Fund setting its sights firmly on attracting a high-end returning drama series. North East Screen’s Film Office is currently supporting the production team at Silverprint with their production needs as they begin to film season 14. We are sure this final season will be another incredible hit with viewers across the globe.

NE Screen Comedy Hot House wins regional RTS Centre Award 2023

Posted on by Victoria Glass

North East Screen wins big at the North East and Borders Royal Television Society Awards with their Comedy Hot House winning the prestigious Centre Award for outstanding contribution to the industry.

The award, which recognises an individual, team or organisation’s work either in front of the camera or behind the scenes, was awarded for the team’s development of TV scripted comedy writers, directors, producers and production companies in the North East.

The Comedy Hot House helped attract the first BBC City of Comedy to Newcastle, which led to the region playing host to the BBC Comedy Festival in May 2022, which brought some of the biggest names in comedy to the city.

As part of the festival, BBC Comedy and North East Screen launched the Regional Partnership Scheme with Hat Trick Productions which resulted in the comedy giant working with Hartlepool-based production company Sea and Sky Pictures to develop a slate of comedy projects.

Working with partnerships has been key to the success of the Comedy Hot House who, among many great projects and schemes, supported and fully funded the first writers room to take place in the region with Tiger Aspect Productions, providing work for 8 comedy writers from the North East. 

David Simpson, Head of Comedy at Tiger Aspect said;

“I could not be more impressed and complimentary of the work NE Screen Comedy Hot House are doing and the incredible contribution they are making to our industry. What sets them apart isn’t just the volume and breadth of their work, it’s that what they put in place makes a real, tangible difference.”

The initiative was co-founded in 2019 by Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive of North East Screen and TV executive, Emma Lawson, now Commissioning Editor for BBC Comedy, as an innovative partnership between a regional screen agency and an experienced scripted comedy executive from the region, to help increase connectivity between the region’s comedy community and broadcast opportunities.

The Hot House won its first commission to deliver an order of short form content to Channel 4, with a follow up commission from BBC Comedy to provide short form comedy content for its digital platforms, while in parallel carrying out high profile outreach activity and sharing the learning and opportunities as far across the region as possible.

They quickly won international recognition at the 2020 Makers and Shakers awards where they won the award for ‘Initiative to Grow Local Industry’.

Emma Lawson, BBC Comedy Commissioner and co-founder of the Comedy Hot House said;

“The Comedy Hot House has helped to raise a flag and draw attention to the brilliant comedy talent that has always been here in the region. The team have worked hard to make sure that people are being seen, heard and consistently championed and connected up with as many meaningful opportunities in scripted comedy as possible.

So many of the companies and talent that joined us for the ride back in 2019 are now working alongside experienced executives, award winning major indies, have developments in with BBC, C4 and other broadcasters and crucially, are now working as paid professionals in the genre.

Alongside this, the outreach activity that Hot House also provides has been majorly boosted by the BBC’s presence in the region and continues to benefit many aspiring producers, writers, directors and performers who want to work in comedy. I feel proud of the meaningful change, and championing of collaboration, that the Hot House team has helped to create in the region. Long may it continue.”

The NE Screen Comedy Hot House is led by Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Business Development at North East Screen with outreach activity coordinated and delivered by Mark Kenny, Comedy Talent Co-ordinator. Lisa added;

“Creating and enabling new ways of working in partnership, between industry, broadcasters and local authorities, has been instrumental in shining a light on the region’s lively grass roots comedy scene and championing our talent. This year’s BBC City of Comedy initiatives have unearthed fresh new voices, kickstarted new regional companies and seen us make real inroads into TV.

All of these successes are thanks to the hard work of a wide range of amazing individuals in key organisations working together to make a real difference (screen agency, local authorities, broadcasters, indies) but none of it would be possible without the incredible pool of North East talent, on and off screen, who have risen to the challenge and are definitely up for sharing their love of comedy.

It’s great to receive this award which gives us another opportunity to shout from the rooftops that the region has exciting talent who have their sights firmly set on TV.”

New opportunity for North East comedy writers

Posted on by North East Screen

We have an exciting opportunity for comedy writers who are over the age of 18 and based in the North East.

We are looking to introduce writing talent from the region to Schnoobert, a production company that aims to encourage, train, and facilitate up and coming talent in the North East.

Schnoobert productions was created by award winning stand up, actor, screenwriter and executive producer, Jason Cook. Jason’s writing and production credits include UK Gold’s highest rated show to date Murder on the Blackpool Express, Death on the Tyne, and  Dial M for Middlesbrough.

Ten writers will be invited to take part in a writer’s round table with Schnoobert to aid the development of their writing and ideas.

This opportunity is aimed at writers rather than writer/performers (we have other opportunities for writer/performers planned for 2023). Both emerging and established writers can apply for this opportunity if they would like to receive an introduction to Jason and Schnoobert.

To apply, please send:

• A brief summary of your experience to date – please specify if you have TV credits

• Three example top lines

• A three-page writing sample (formatted)

• Completed NE Screen EDI Form (download here)

Please email these over as clearly labelled pdf attachments (with your name and which attachment it is) to by midnight on Monday 23rd January. Please use “Introduction to Schnoobert” as the subject header of your email. Invitations to the writers round table will be sent out on the 20th of February.

Jason Cook, CEO of Schnoobert Productions said: “We’re really excited to be talking to new writers and hearing their ideas. It can often be nerve wracking sending something in for the first time. Will it be terrible? Is it only me that likes this? But what we are looking for are just interesting stories from creative minds, nothing is perfect when it’s in its first iteration so please just give us your most exciting ideas and we will do our best to realise them!”

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please email

Hot House Events


18/07/2024 – 6:00 pm
Women in Film and TV Summer Networking
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11/07/2024 – 7:00 pm
North East Screen and Focus Canning Summer Social
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11/07/2024 – 3:30 pm
New Entrant Careers and Networking Event
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08/05/2024 – 9:30 am
Crew Academy Bootcamp – North Shields
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30/04/2024 – 1:00 pm
Good Working Practices
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23/04/2024 – 9:00 am
BBC Production Unlocked – Newcastle
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18/04/2024 – 11:00 am
Audio Network Webinar
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20/03/2024 – 6:00 pm
Crossing over into Directing Comedy with Comedy 50:50
Learn more
14/03/2024 – 1:00 pm
Overcoming Barriers in film and TV – Connected Communities
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22/02/2024 – 9:00 am
Crew Academy Scripted Bootcamp – Durham
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07/02/2024 – 9:00 am
Post-Production Masterclass with True North Post
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26/01/2024 – 12:00 pm
Jackdaw Screening and Q&A
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New funded development opportunity

Posted on by North East Screen
North East Screen announce a new funded development opportunity for North East based comedy talent, plus a BBC Comedy event in Newcastle.

An exciting opportunity is being offered to comedy writers, performers, producers and directors by North East Screen and BBC Comedy to develop talent in the region.

The NE Screen Comedy Hot House have devised a scheme that offers funds to six comedy creatives to help them develop their television ideas. Each chosen creator will receive £1000 as well as development support and an introduction to production companies, ahead of pitching their ideas to BBC Comedy for feedback.

Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Professional Development at North East Screen said;

“This is a first of its kind opportunity for North East comedy creators ready to burst onto comedy platforms. We are looking to champion six people and support them to get their ideas ready to pitch to the BBC.”

For more information and to apply for the fund click here

To support and inspire applications to the funded development opportunity, the NE Screen Comedy Hot House will be hosting Cracking the Comedy Codes – a day of panels featuring comedy industry experts.

The event on Thursday 13th October with industry experts, will centre discussions around short films, audio, and the development of comedy characters for screen. Featured guests include Simon Mayhew-Archer (This Country), Rupert Majendie (Brian and Charles, Pls Like), Kirk Flash (This is Gay), Julia McKenzie (BBC Radio4 Comedy Commissioner) and more!

Cracking the Comedy Codes ( will take place at the Stand, Newcastle 1-5pm where you will also have the chance to meet some of the BBC Comedy commissioning team.

BBC City of Comedy 2022

As part of Newcastle’s tenure as the first BBC City of Comedy, the region hosted the first ever BBC Comedy Festival, bringing the entire UK comedy production sector to the North East. At the event we announced our flagship Regional Partnership Scheme, fast tracking regional company Sea & Sky Productions to co-develop a slate of TV series ideas for BBC Comedy with Hat Trick Productions. The creator development fund is part of a wider range of engaging outreach events, profiling some of the UKs best talent, ensuring our comedy community is inspired and enabling our regions comedy scene to thrive.


Cracking the Comedy Codes; Podcast, Character and Short Film Masterclasses

Posted on by North East Screen

On the 13th of October, NE Screen Comedy Hot House will be hosting an afternoon of panels that will explore the ins and outs of short form comedy development for audio and screen.

As part of BBC City of Comedy, North East Screen and BBC Comedy commissioners are working together to inspire the next wave of comedy content creators to pitch podcasts, comedy characters and attention-grabbing comedy shorts that will get North East talent noticed.

The search is on for comedy talent that can break through the noise, demand (and keep) audience’s attention. To create stories and characters that bring a fresh authentic twist on people and places. 

These panels are linked to the Creator Development Fund, attending will support your application.

The panels are as follows:

Demystifying Podcast Development and Production with special guests Kirk Flash and Julia McKenzie

Ever wondered where to start in comedy podcasting? Let’s talk funny!

Award winning writer, comedian and audio creator Kirk Flash and Radio 4 Comedy and Entertainment Commissioner Julia McKenzie join us to share advice on starting out in audio, what sets an idea apart and how you go about getting yours heard.

Kirk Flash is the creator and voice behind “This is Gay” a podcast which won Silver for Best Comedy at the British Podcast Awards 2022 and Kirk himself won Gold for the Rising Star Award, sponsored by BBC Sounds. He is also the writer and creator of the award-winning animated series Summer Lane Drive which is currently distributed on digital platforms in the USA and Latin America. 

Julia McKenzie resides over the home of comedy, BBC Radio 4. As newly appointed Radio 4 Comedy and Entertainment Commissioner she creates opportunities for writers, performers and producers to thrive, all whilst making the nation laugh. 

Producing Comedy Characters for Screen with special guest Simon Mayhew-Archer

Ever wondered how to create strong comedy characters? Have you got ideas for fresh characters we need to see on our screens?

We’ll be joined by BAFTA award-winning Executive Producer Simon Mayhew. Simon will be talking about his most recent work – the multi award-winning show This Country, starring Daisy May Cooper and Charlie Cooper. Explaining how he approaches working with writer/performers, playing with fresh strong characters and when and how to build a series around a character.

The Art of Comedy Short Film with with special guests Rupert Majendie, Gideon Beresford & Behnam Taheri

Ready to make a bold, inspiring short film that packs a comedy punch and gets you noticed? 

Great short films are a chance to bring a vision to life, show off your talent and build your creative team. 

Gideon Beresford and Behnam Taheri (collectively known as Rosco5) are writer-directors whose visual flair and natural comic timing brilliantly blends their perverse observations with the magical and mundane.   

Originally an editor and a producer, they teamed up as writer-directors for their first short film Open Wide in 2018, which premiered at Palm Springs Shortfest and was acquired by C4 Random Acts. Their subsequent shorts and commercials have screened worldwide, winning numerous awards, and a Vimeo staff pick. They have made shorts for Adult Swim, BBC and Channel 4 as well as shooting a BBC Pilot that is now going to series.

Finishing off the panel is TV, film, online and live comedy Producer Rupert Majendie. Rupert recently produced the (what started off as a short film) Film4 and BFI feature ‘Brian and Charles,’ written by David Earl and Chris Hayward. We’ll be unpicking how to nurture stories and characters.

Click here to sign up for the event via Eventbrite.

North East Comedy Hot House



Our award winning NE Screen Comedy Hot House is a first-of-its kind comedy cooperative nurturing regional talent, both on and off screen, co-founded by scripted comedy executive Emma Lawson and our chief executive Alison Gwynn.

We champion, connect and develop the region’s best comedy talent by creating outstanding opportunities with industry partners. We want to bring the comedy community in the North East together, to encourage creativity, partnership working and sharing of knowledge and networks.

There has never been a better time to be in the North East if you’re someone who is wishing to progress in TV comedy.  The BBC are committed to supporting North East Screen and our Hot House team to support the next wave of comedy talent and regional production companies on their journey to make broadcast-ready productions.
BBC City of Comedy – Newcastle

Newcastle was the very first BBC City of Comedy and hosted the BBC’s first Comedy Festival for indie producers, people with a new career in TV and comedy, and people looking to break into or advance in the industry. A series of events took place across three days to explore, reflect on and celebrate comedy in the UK.

Some of the biggest comedy names attended 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. Talent-led talks, panels, screenings, a short film night, live comedy, and the premier of The Outlaws series 2 all took place at the Northern Stage in Newcastle.

BBC Director of Comedy, Jon Petrie, opened the festival, setting out his vision for BBC Comedy and highlighting commissioning opportunities to the comedy production community.

Regional Partnership Scheme

At the festival BBC Comedy announced 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.

Sea & Sky Pictures in Hartlepool were chosen as the company to be paired with Hat Trick Production in a partnership that will see the companies co-develop a slate of original ideas over 6 months to help strengthen and enhance the local talent and creating new connects and opportunities.

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. Read more details here.

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. Read more details here.

BBC Opportunities

BBC Comedy have opened up new pipelines for production companies to develop scripted comedy and we would love North East talent to get some! BBC Commissioning briefs and current opportunities can be found here. Submit all pitches here.

The BBC’s Small Indie Fund was awarded to six North East production companies in January. Read here to find out more.

Production Companies Meet our production companies
1 / 4
Sea & Sky Pictures
Adam Bouabda

Sea & Sky Pictures based in Hartlepool is a small indie formed in 2020 by Adam Bouabda. The company has produced scripted comedy, BFI funded short films, online content for commercial clients and its first feature film. They are developing and pitching several sitcoms and factual entertainment programmes to major broadcasters and streamers and have grown as an organisation thanks to recent funding.

Sea & Sky Pictures
2 / 4
Candle & Bell
Maria Caruana Galizia

Candle & Bell was formed in 2013 and in 2017, Candle & Bell was named one of the Top 50 Emerging Creative Companies, by Creative England. The company produces commercial and online content for cultural institutions and festivals, as well as developing a slate of ambitious and original films. alongside producing branded content for commercials, Candle & Bell is developing a slate of feature films including “Marwell” by Benjamin Bee (supported by Venice Biennale Cinema College and The BFI), “Soon We Will All Be History Here” by Saeed Taji Farouky (Supported by Jordan Film Fund and Torino Script Lab 2021), “Man at the Window” by Lucy Rose (supported by Edinburgh Talent Lab Connects).

Candle & Bell
3 / 4
Schnoobert Productions
Jason Cook

Schnoobert Productions was recently founded by Jason Cook, stand up, actor, screenwriter and executive producer. The company is partnership focused and was formed to give other North East writers, performers, producers, directors and other creatives an outlet. They are developing drama and comedy ideas and creating passionate, authentic characters to tell relatable and compelling stories.

Schnoobert Productions
4 / 4
Nova Mundi
Marc de Launay and Daniel-John Williams

Nova Mundi are a Teesside based production company with a passion to get Northern voices heard and Northern creatives into work. Nova Mundi directors Marc de Launay and Daniel-John Williams are a small, dedicated team with years of experience.

“We are passionate about nurturing emerging talent whilst raising the profiles of established talent in the North so we can build a community to develop ideas with a global reach.”

Nova Mundi are working on a slate of scripted and unscripted comedy, drama and documentary, factual entertainment programmes for television and film, including Pigeon Men, a feature length long form documentary about racing pigeons. Nova Mundi will soon be working for the Mayor of London Creative Industries as the Northern Hub for a new scheme ‘Mayor of London Academies’ to help youngsters find a career in the television, film and theatre industry. 

Nova Mundi Studios

Hot House News
Zahra Zomorrodian named as a recipient of the BBC Comedy Collective bursary scheme
23rd May 2024
Zahra Zomorrodian named as a recipient of the BBC Comedy Collective bursary scheme
North East-based Zahra Zomorrodian has been named as one of the 10 recipients of the supercharged bursary scheme – the BBC Comedy Collective – as announced by BBC Director of Comedy Jon Petrie today [Thursday 23rd May] at the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow.
Learn more

Women X Industry Panel

Posted on by North East Screen

North East Screen’s Comedy Hot House is delighted to announce the line up for its Industry Panel that is being held at the Women X Film Festival in Darlington on the 3rd of September.

12.30-1.30 Darlington Hippodrome, followed by informal networking.

Getting noticed and landing your first break writing for TV. North East Screen Comedy Hot House and Comedy 5050

Ever wondered how to write for TV? Come along and listen to our panel of experienced creatives about their writing journey, how they got their first break, and what they are doing to support more female writers to get their start in the industry. 

Meet two writers from the region who have recently broken into the TV industry, alongside the founder of Comedy 50:50, an initiative to address gender inequalities in TV comedy. Hear about the different routes their careers have taken and why they think it is important to champion new voices and inclusivity in the industry. 

Panel Guests

Saskia Schuster, founder of Comedy 5050, head of scripted at Fulwell 73 and the former Controller for Comedy at ITV. Anna Costello, a writer whose first comedy pilot recently aired on Dave, UKTV and Emily Fairweather, a writer who gained her first appointment on a BBC one drama, and who has since had several of her scripts optioned.

Hosted by Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and manager of Comedy Hot House at North East Screen.

Comedy 50:50 was founded by Saskia Schuster to address the gender imbalance in comedy, and to reflect the diverse range of voices that make up society. Comedy 5050’s intention is one of inclusivity and to push forward changes in a manner that is respectful to all talent. The initial focus is on writers, but the aim is to extend the initiative to all aspects of comedy performance and production.  

Anna Costello is a writer from Consett, County Durham. In 2021 Anna was nominated for the All3Media New Comedy Script Award and won the UKTV and TriForce Underrepresented Writers Initiative. Anna’s comedy pilot Dead Canny is screening on UKTV for Dave. As a senior creative at Electric Noir Studios, Anna works on their BAFTA-nominated series, DEAD MAN’S PHONE, developing and writing interactive detective series for their mobile storytelling platform. Anna is represented as a writer by Berlin Associates. Dead Canny will be aired on August 24th at 10 pm on Dave, UKTV.

Emily Fairweather is a writer and actor from North Shields. Emily has worked on projects for the likes of UKTV and ITV and gained her first broadcast appointment on The Mallorca Files for BBC One. In addition, Emily has had a number of her original scripts optioned and is represented as a writer by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.

Buy your tickets for the event here.

BBC Comedy presents Adult Film Club, an evening of comedy short films

Posted on by North East Screen

On 29th September in Newcastle, BBC Comedy and NE Screen Comedy Hot House come together to present Adult Film Club, a special screening of comedy short films including everything from innovative sketches to unforgettable viral oddities.

This new exciting event is part of the BBC City of Comedy in Newcastle which aims to help find, nurture and connect new comedy talent in the North East with UK commissioners and the wider TV industry.

Adult Film Club is the baby of comedy writer/performer Chris Cantrill (BBC2’s Alma’s Not Normal and half of Edinburgh nominated double act The Delightful Sausage) and animator/director Sam O’Leary (Inside No.9 and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared). The night launched in Manchester with the aim of showcasing emerging talent and bringing together comedy creators and now with support from BBC Comedy and NE Screen Comedy Hot House Adult Film Club is coming to the North East. The event is produced by comedy producer Hal Branson.

Navi Lamba, Head of Talent Development BBC Comedy Commissioning said;
“We’re so excited to have Adult Film Club curate our short film nights in Newcastle. They are masters at finding comedy gems on the internet, and simultaneously putting on a 10/10 comedy show. We want to amuse, inspire and champion emerging regional comedy talent and AFC is the perfect vehicle!”

Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Professional Development at North East Screen added; 

“We are really excited to partner with BBC Comedy on another great event as part of BBC City of Comedy, we can’t wait to see what the talented folks at Adult Film Club have in store for us. If you like laughing, love short films and want to meet talent and commissioners come along and get inspired.”

Adult Film Club will be hosted at the Black Swan in Newcastle (Westgate Road) starting at 7pm. The show will include an extended interval with the opportunity to network with other comedy fans and creators.

Click here to sign up to the event.


Notes to Editors

NE Screen Comedy Hot House, is a first-of-its kind comedy cooperative nurturing regional talent both on and off screen. We champion, connect and develop the region’s best comedy talent by creating outstanding opportunities with industry partners. North East Comedy Hot House – North East Screen

BBC City of Comedy
Newcastle was announced as the first BBC City of Comedy in September 2021 and hosted the first BBC Comedy Festival. The series of events took place across three days to explore, reflect on and celebrate comedy in the UK and was attended by comedy talent, commissioners, indie producers, people with a new career in TV and comedy and people wanting to break into the industry.

The BBC also announced their Regional Partnership Scheme, co-funded with North East Screen pairing a North East based emerging indie with a leading BBC Comedy supplier. Sea & Sky Productions were selected to work with Hat Trick Productions to co-develop a slate of ideas for BBC Comedy. The BBC City of Comedy in Newcastle will continue with the Adult Comedy short film nights.

This outreach activity is funded by BBC Comedy and North East Screen through BBC Small Indie fund and NESIP.

Adult Film Club is a comedy short film night created by writer/performer Chris Cantrill (Alma’s Not Normal, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, Late Night Mash) and animator/director Sam O’Leary (Inside No.9, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared). Based in Manchester, Adult Film Club exists to champion emerging comedy talent, DIY innovation and internet weirdos.

All aboard the Hot House Comedy Shuttle!

Posted on by North East Screen

North East Screen and NEScreen Comedy Hot House have organised a bus to take comedy producers/writers/performers from the North East to the Edinburgh Festival for free on Thursday the 25th of August for the entire day.

TV comedy executives and indies all descend on Edinburgh for the final week of the Fringe Festival, creating a perfect networking opportunity for North East creatives.

The bus will be setting off from the North East early in the morning to allow for approximately 8 hours in Edinburgh.

If you’d like to join us, please register your interest via our Eventbrite page.

Please note, signing up to this event means you are registering your interest. Places are limited and we will send out a confirmation of your place on the bus on Tuesday the 16th of August. If you do not receive a confirmation from us, then unfortunately you will not be admitted on the bus. You must be based in the North East to attend this event.

Email for more information. Keep an eye on the North East Screen and NEScreen Comedy Hot House socials to stay up to date with upcoming events.

Special thanks to the BBC City of Comedy for funding this amazing opportunity!