Laurels and Felt Nowt have both been selected to receive £5,000 from BBC Comedy to support their comedy outreach and inclusion projects.
The recipients of the comedy grants were announced by Jon Petrie at the BBC Comedy Festival in Cardiff on Thursday the 25th of May. The grants are an opportunity for BBC Comedy to increase engagement with companies and organisations that want to support growth and access opportunities in comedy.
Laurels, a popular entertainment venue in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, will be using their BBC Comedy grant to help move comedy talent from lower socio-economic backgrounds off social media and into larger-scale development.
Felt Nowt plan to use its grant to extend its programme to focus on workshops for LGBTQ+ comedy performers in the region. They said: “We were delighted to receive this grant, it will help us on our mission to bring more comedy to the region and we are excited to find some exciting new comedians from underrepresented communities”
Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Development at North East Screen said: “I’m really excited to see what Laurels and Felt Nowt can bring to the region’s emerging comedy scene supporting talent and audiences to imagine possibilities for crossing over from theatre to screen. They are both already doing some amazing work, and I looking forward to seeing what’s next.”
A new BBC Comedy short called Where it Ends premiered at the BBC Comedy Festival in Cardiff and is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer. The short was filmed in the North East with a cast and crew who were also primarily from the region.
In the short, actor Jack joins a panto tour of care homes, where he is confronted with the reality of where it ends. The comedy stars Jack Robertson, Lauren Pattison, Charlie Hardwick and Dave Johns.
Where It Ends is a Tiger Aspect (a Banijay UK company) production for BBC iPlayer and BBC Three. The writer is Jack Robertson, the director is Fergal Costello, and the executive producers are David Simpson and Sam Ward. It was commissioned for the BBC by Emma Lawson and Navi Lamba.
Writer and star of the short Jack Roberston said: “Where it Ends is a personal story of something that actually happened to me and has stayed with me for years. So to be able to work with such fantastic people to bring the story to life, for screen, was amazing. But the best bit was the catering, the chips on set were perfectly seasoned.”
Head of Talent and Business Development at North East Screen, Lisa Laws said: “I’m thrilled that Jack, a hot new writer/performer has been given this first step to develop with BBC Comedy in mind. It is a brilliant opportunity to showcase original comedy characters rooted in real experiences and we are excited by the possibility that it could grow into a long-form series in the region. I have no doubt that this will not be the last we see of Jack, his comedy characters or, the on-screen talent showcased in Where it Ends.
“Hugely grateful to David Simpson, Head of Comedy Tiger Aspect who has pulled together an exceptional team and a stellar cast, including Dave Johns and Charlie Hardwick, to bolster our exciting new talent.”
The production of Where it Ends featured a number of fresh comedy talent stepping across into the industry including Mark Kenny, a Comedy Development Producer from Sunderland. Where it Ends was Mark’s first assistant producer role after crossing over from the teaching profession. He is now working on another scripted comedy from Tiger Aspect, part of Banijay. Mark has great transferable skills and an unparalleled drive and enthusiasm, which has enabled him to break into the industry at speed. Best of it is, in true Comedy Hot House style, he likes to keep the doors open for his fellow creatives too.
Also involved was Katija Roberts who was shadow director on the production. The North of Tyne-based director was given the chance to shadow on the short following the Film Hub North/BFI ‘Scratch me’ program.
On her time working on the short, Katija said: “It was a really great experience shadowing on Where It Ends. I’d just come straight from directing a BFI short, so for a start it was interesting to be part of a short film production with a much larger budget and to see what that gets you. I also found the discussions between David, Sam, Fergal, Jack and BBC really insightful from casting through to the final edit. It was a great team and everyone was super welcoming and invited my opinions all the way through the process.”
Where it Ends is available on BBC iPlayerfrom today (Friday 26 May) and will be shown on BBC Three in the coming months.
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.
The Church Post, an editing facility in Byker, Newcastle has completed the post-production of a BBC Comedy short film, ‘Where it Ends’ for London production company Tiger Aspect.
‘Where It Ends’, a short film produced by Tiger Aspect was written, developed and shot entirely in the North East of England with all cast and crew from the region. The Church Post was commissioned by Tiger Aspect to complete the post-production of the comedy short making it a fully North East produced programme.
Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Business Development at North East Screen said;
“We are delighted that The Church Post along with East Wing Sound were contracted to deliver this work which shows we have the talent and drive in the North East to grow businesses that will support more commissions to be developed, filmed and edited in the region.”
The Church Post provided Tiger Aspect with the Offline Edit, Online Edit, Colour Grade, VFX, Dubbing mix, ADR, QC and Dispatch. Their new editing suite in Newcastle has three offline edits running Avid and Premiere and one finishing suite in Resolve alongside the dubbing and ADR suite.”
Sheree Black, Production Executive at Tiger Aspect Productions said;
“This was our first time working with The Church Post and it has been an excellent one. It is a top end facility with a knowledgeable, creative and helpful team which helped make our BBC short, ‘Where it Ends’, something we’re extremely proud of. We are looking forward to working with the team again.”
James Baxter, Founder of The Church Post said;
“We are looking to expand to five edit suites over the next year and we have employed post-production producer Emily Ballantyne to support us in our growth. We are also looking to bring on two trainee editors/ edit assistants from the North East and invest in the infrastructure of the building with faster internet connection and a larger storage space.
I am delighted with how ‘Where it End’s has turned out which is thanks to our hardworking and talented team of Mark Lediard, Rich McCoull, Emily Ballantyne and David Scott. We would welcome more post-production in the North East.”
Lisa Laws continued;
“To have this sort of facility here is exactly what we’re aiming for as part of the wider North East Screen Industries Partnership as it shows a real commitment from broadcasters and out of region production companies to grow not only our talent and companies but also our infrastructure. It ensures that once a production company has filmed here, they can stay to complete the editing, keeping investment in the region and sustaining work for our talented and specialist post production crew.”