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.
You now have until the 13th of June to apply for the Skills Cluster Evaluation role with Screen Alliance North.
This role is full time (37 hours per week) on a three year fixed contract. You can be based at any of the partner offices in Sunderland, Hartlepool, Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds and will see work across all of the partner regions.
Screen Alliance North, a new £2.3m BFI Skills Cluster led by Screen Yorkshire, Liverpool Film Office, Screen Manchester and North East Screen, has been created to support the development and training of the screen sector workforce across the North of England.
BBC Academy and Middlechild Productions visited two colleges in the North East today, bringing an interactive Q&A workshop for students looking to start a career in factual filmmaking and production.
The visit was to celebrate the launch of BBC Three’s Therapy: Tough Talking documentary, which features North East actor and rapper Kema Sikazwe (aka Kema Kay). The film follows Kema’s journey through therapy as he faces his past traumas. Students at Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form got to speak with the producers about job opportunities and gaining experience for a career in television.
Students also pitched their own ideas for factual programmes, inspired by their own lives in the North East, and received feedback from television professionals. A special recorded message from Kema was also played for each college, and his therapist Hayley Tyson- Adams discussed the importance of mental health support and finding help.
This workshop is part of the BBC’s Across the UK Strategy, which seeks to invest more in training and production outside of London to better represent and serve the whole UK. This comes after the BBC announced to commit £25 million to the North East, partnering with companies like Northern Child, Middlechild’s sister company, to increase production and opportunities in the region.
Diana Hare, Commissioning Editor at the BBC, said: “Therapy: Tough Talking is a unique project. Kema’s courage, in allowing cameras in the therapy room, will help demystify and destigmatise the process. We’re grateful that we can continue to foster creativity in the North East by bringing this workshop to local colleges.”
Andrew Eastel, Creative Director at Middlechild, and the director of the documentary, said, “Everyone on the team has felt extremely privileged to have worked on Therapy: Tough Talking. To be granted the unique access to film Kema’s therapy has been both enlightening and fulfilling. By bravely allowing cameras into the room, Kema and Hayley have shone a light on the power of therapy and addressed many of the misconceptions associated with it, especially amongst younger people. We’re delighted to have this opportunity to screen the film to students in Sunderland and Hartlepool. Not just because some of them may relate to the subject of the film, but also to highlight the power of documentary filmmaking, and hopefully inspire some filmmakers of the future.”
Ruth Magnus, Director of Student Services at Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College, said: “We were pleased to be among the select number of colleges involved in the screening of the Therapy: Tough Talking documentary. Across our colleges, we have a responsibility for the positive mental health of our students.
“Through this experience, we will be able to challenge the misconceptions of mental illness, raise awareness of symptoms and demonstrate compassion.”
Announced today (27th April) at the Creative Cities convention in Newcastle, Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes will return for a second 15×30 series on BBC Two after its hugely successful debut earlier this year.
Robson will again be taking the roads less travelled around his beloved North East, journeying to many of the hidden gems that reside within the region as well as venturing into the Lakes and the Scottish Borders. Immersing themselves in the great outdoors Robson and friends will travel to the North and South Tyne valley along with the Pennine Way as well as through the charismatic County of Cumbria which includes the jaw dropping vistas of The Lake District and of course the amazing outdoor adventures in the beautiful Border county.
Joined by family, friends and famous faces the series will once again highlight the importance of blending into the outdoors to relax, recharge and re-connect along with breathing in nature. Robson and friends will travel to the North and South Tyne valley and everything in-between.
Joining Robson on his travels this series will be guests such as Kevin Whately, Tanni Grey Thompson and Shola Ameobi to name a few. And of course the family will be getting involved, including Robson’s Uncle Matheson, back by popular demand!
Robson Green comments, “I am delighted that my Weekend Escapes is coming back for a second series. The response from the first, and especially up in the North East was fantastic. It is so important to know what’s on your doorstep and explore your local area in times when you could be feeling burnt out, so I’m excited to take viewers around the North East again with my family and celeb friends – I can’t wait! Not only do I get to showcase a region I adore and its people, I’m also able to showcase the talent that exists in the area both in-front of and behind the lens. We also provide a training ground for those who aspire to work within this wonderful industry.”
Rob Unsworth, Head of BBC Daytime and Early Peak Commissioning comments, “The first series of Weekend Escapes was a real treat, and a big hit with viewers, so we’re excited to see what adventures Robson takes us all on next. I’m also proud that BBC Daytime is commissioning programmes supporting and showcasing the North East, and look forward to developing more ideas with the talented companies in this part of the country.”
Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes is a co-production made by Signpost and Rivers Meet productions, both based in the North East companies and is commissioned for BBC Two Daytime and iPlayer by Helen Munson.
North East Screen and Pact are today launching a joint initiative Future North Eastat this year’s Creative Cities Convention in Newcastle.
Future North East is based on Pact’s successful Future30 scheme – which launched in 2021 as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations – and is designed to identify promising indies in the North East and help them develop into global businesses.
The two-year scheme is open to both members and non-members of Pact based in the North East, and benefits include two years’ free Pact membership and a supercharged, tailored development programme giving participants access to industry experts to help them to develop and grow their businesses.
While speaking at the Creative Cities Convention in Newcastle, North East Screen Chairman, David Parfitt, announced the launch of the scheme and asked indies to get in touch with the North East Screen Talent and Business Development team to register their interest.
Applications will open on 5th May and indies will be invited to submit a video pitch to be judged by a panel of experienced producers and experts, with the winners unveiled at the end of May with the first bootcamp taking place in June.
Screen Alliance North, a new £2.3m BFI Skills Cluster led by Screen Yorkshire, Liverpool Film Office, Screen Manchester and North East Screen, is recruiting for two new full-time roles, to support development and training of the screen sector workforce across the North of England.
These roles are full time (37 hours per week) and a three year fixed term contract. They can be based at any of the partner offices in Sunderland, Hartlepool, Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds and will see work across all of the partner regions.
North East Screen, the screen agency for the North East of England, has selected three stand up comedy creators who will each receive £1,000 in development funds to help prime them for the wave of opportunities coming into the region in 2023.
Sammy Dobson, Raul Kohli and Scott Turnbull, all talented comedy creators from the region, will each receive the development fund as well as support to help pair them with development producers and production companies and provide them with industry networking opportunities.
12 runner up comedy creators will get the opportunity to work with NE Screen’s Comedy Hot House. Jess McDonagh, Bridgett Deane, Lauren Stone, Lee Armstrong, Matty Ride-Smith, Nic Owen, Penelope Yeulet, Rachel Stockdale, Sian Armstrong, Caden Elliott, Beth Chapman and Alison Stanley.
The BBC Small Indie fund has supported a year of outreach activity across the North East culminating in the BBC Comedy Creator Development Fund, co-ordinated by NE Screen Comedy Hot House.
Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Business Development at North East Screen said;
“This was an opportunity for North East comedy creators with their sights set on scripted comedy to pitch themselves and their ideas to us. It’s been fantastic to find so many up and coming comedy creators in the region and brilliant to see such a range of talent and ideas. We can’t wait to introduce them to producers with inroads to broadcasters.
All applicants to the scheme have opportunities to meet the region’s comedy companies and development producers who pitch to broadcasters. Well done to everyone who has been part of the process and we are excited to see the ideas and comedy creations develop.”
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Click hereto view all the recipients and runners-up of the BBC Comedy Creator Fund.