Monday, 13 May 2019

Sitcom Trials 2002 Tour

In a folder that I was very nearly about to sling into the recycling unopened, I've just found a delightful treasure trove of memorabilia from The Sitcom Trials first tour, which followed our Edinburgh Fringe debut of 2001. The tour, in the spring of 2002, was only 8 gigs long, but being the first I'd ever promoted was quite a little triumph for me and set the template for how I would go on to produce the, slightly longer, Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre tours of subsequent years.

These souvenirs are from the first four shows on the tour, in Leicester, Loughborough (both part of Leicester Comedy Festival), Cirencester, and Nottingham, and a London show at the Amused Moose, all of which starred the Edinburgh cast of Miranda Hart and Charity Trimm (who graced all our promotional materials, in a photo lifted from their own show with Sitcom Trials t-shirts Photoshopped in), Gez Foster and Dan Clegg. After these five gigs they decided they'd had enough of the show, which was much of a money maker once our meagre fee had been split five ways, leaving me to recruit and rehearse a new cast for the subsequent shows (in Glasgow, Reading, Gloucester and Warrington, now you ask). This I then did.

Amazingly this little period of Miranda's showbiz history hasn't featured heavily in her various autobiographies, and I confess I'd forgotten much of it (Cirencester, for example, was a Pointless answer I would never have got in a hundred guesses) but it's a pleasure to see I've hung onto these mementoes of that formative time in our various careers.

And this just turned up in the same box of trivia, a Sitcom Trials voting form from a long forgotten New Material Night, held at the Comedy Pub in London in march 2002. And winning on the night, with 25 votes to the others 6 and 4, was Peterford Golf Club by Shepherd and Farnaby. Waen Shepherd went on to become the legendary Gary Le Strange and have a regular part in The Inbetweeners, and Simon Farnaby has been a regular in Horrible Histories for some years and currently portrays a dead politician in Ghosts.

Whatever did happen to The Sitcom Trials?

The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! Previews:

May 24 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
May 30 - Vauxhall Comedy Club
June 1 & 2 - Komedia Brighton Fringe
June 8 - Harlequin in Redhill
July 8 - Barnes Fringe
July 19 - Kings Arms Salford, GM Fringe
July 20 - Bedford Fringe
July 28 - Derby Bar One 

July 31st - August 25th, The Scottish Falsetto Socks ROLL UP! at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose 9.30pm. Sexy new venue, sexy new timeslot. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Merry Christmas from The Sitcom Trials

A very Merry Christmas to everyone who's been involved in, or come to see, The Sitcom Trials over the years. 2018's been our quietest year in a long time, but perhaps we can console ourselves with the Trials' rather tenuous link to Christmas adverts. Has anyone else spotted it?

That's right, Uncle Awesome, the central character in this year's Paypal Christmas Adverts - which I, for one, have been unable to escape online this month - is played by one of the winners of 2009's 10th Anniversary Sitcom Trials, Sam Pamphilon.

Sam Pamphilon and Steve McNeil won the 10th Anniversary Sitcom Trials, a season of which ran at the Leicester Square Theatre from October to December 2009, with their sitcom End To End. You can see it in this clip from Heat 3, judged by Iain Morris and Nev Fountain.

The Sitcom Trials' 20th anniversary is coming up in 2019 and, at the moment, it looks like we have no plans to revive or commemorate it. If anyone out there would like to make that happen, do please get in touch. (You'll find me, Kev F, on Facebook, Twitter, and email)

A Happy New Year when it comes everyone.

Kev F Sutherland
Creator and producer
The Sitcom Trials 1999 - ?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Announcing the First Irish Radio Sitcom Trials

The Sitcom Trials is happy to announce the launch of the First Irish Radio Sitcom Trials.

RTE, and the production company Sideline, are running a competition called The Radio Sitcom Trials, looking for original half-hour radio comedy scripts in an attempt to encourage and develop Irish comedy writing talent. The deadline for entries is March 31st 2018. Enter here. Details and links are below.

Of course, as Sitcom Trials fans will know, it's not the first Radio Sitcom Trials, as in recent years, Vince Stadon and the Bristol Sitcom Trials team have produced shows in association with BCFM Radio, and BBC Radio Bristol and we did a series of shows with Bristol Community Radio as long ago as 2004. And of course the Sitcom Trials had its run on ITV in 2003, which is like radio but with pictures.

The Sitcom Trials Radio logo from the Bristol team's BCFM and BBC Bristol shows

The first BBC Radio productions to come out of Sitcom Trials shows (in our earlier incarnation as Situations Vacant) were the pilot shows Come Together, starring Ben Miller, Kevin Eldon, Arabella Weir and Mel Hudson recorded in the BBC Radio Theatre in 1997, and Meanwhile, starring Ronnie Ancona and Geoffrey McGivern, in 1998. They weren't radio Sitcom Trials, but they're always nice to cast our minds back over.

Ben Miller, Arabella Weir, Mel Hudson & Kevin Eldon in Come Together at the BBC Radio Theatre

Here are the details of RTE and Sidelines' production of The Irish Radio Sitcom Trials which we here at Sitcom Trials central are happy to support.



RTE Radio 1 and Sideline Productions are seeking original half-hour radio comedy scripts in a new drive to develop and encourage Irish writing talent.

SIDELINE Productions, in association with RTE Radio 1, are actively seeking comedy writers that can deliver half-hour radio scripts set in a familiar situation featuring stand out memorable comic characters.

Supported by The Broadcast Authority of Ireland (BAI) and comedy website, The Radio Sitcom Trials is a new initiative staged as part of the radio comedy festival COMEDY SHOWHOUSE. Now in its 3rd year, the 6-day festival takes place at the Project Arts Theatre from Monday, April 30th to Saturday, May 5th 2018 featuring two star-studded shows at 8pm each night.

The pilot for Fiona Looney’s all-female sketch series WAITING proved such a success that it is now being supersized as a 6-part series recorded over 3 nights starring award-winning actresses Deirdre O’Kane & Rose Henderson on Monday, April 30th, Tuesday, May 1st and Wednesday, May 2nd. Each night will feature new half-hour radio shows.

This is followed on Thursday, May 3rd for 3 nights by the much-anticipated return of the multi award-winning series COLM O’REGAN WANTS A WORD – starring the Cork-born author of the successful Irish Mammy books, best seller Bolloxology and a regular performer on stage, radio and TV. Colm is joined by two of Ireland’s best comedy actors Tara Flynn and Paul Tylak. The show has already won awards for Best Irish Radio Comedy in 2016 and 2017 plus the Celtic Media Award in 2017 for Best Radio Comedy Programme broadcast in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Again each of the 3 nights features Colm, Tara & Paul performing in brand new radio programmes with special guests.
To further boost the production of original Irish radio comedy now RTE Radio 1 and Sideline Productions are keen to find the next wave of scripted comedy writing talent.
THE SITCOM TRAILS is a new initiative to spark a new breed of radio comedy writers. We are seeking popular scripts with laugh out loud moments with a small cast of ‘larger than life’ characters that can grab the imagination of an Irish audience. We are not looking for monologues, sketch shows or plays written originally for the stage. Scripts created originally for TV could be modified and re-written for radio. It is important though writers grasp the dramatic beats, pace and structure of the comedy radio half hour format plus recognise the creative opportunities radio production offers to comedy writers. The running time can be between 25 and 30 minutes.
Search tips and articles on writing (radio) comedy at
The strict deadline for accepting scripts is midnight Saturday, March 31st and there is no exception. If the final scripts selected (4 max) are of a required standard they will be performed and read by professional actors in front of a live audience as part of the first ever Sitcom Trails on Saturday, May 5th, 2018 in the Project Arts Theatre Dublin.
The writers of any of the staged radio scripts will receive a one-off award of €250.


Media queries to

The Original Official Sitcom Trials has been running since 1999, on stage in Bristol, London, Edinburgh, nationally and internationally. It ran at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2013 and 2016, and enjoyed an 8 week run on ITV in 2003. The last Sitcom Trials tournament had heats in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, London and Cardiff with its grand final at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh 2016.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Sitcom Mission 2018 launches

The Sitcom Mission, our fellow sitcom competition which spun off from The Sitcom Trials back in 2009, has launched its 2018 programme. Full details are here. 

Declan Hill, Kev F Sutherland and Simon Wright, winning the Fringe Report Award for Best Encourager of Talent for The Sitcom Trials in 2008. Declan and Simon went on to produce The Sitcom Mission 

In 2008 and 2009, Sitcom Trials alumni Declan Hill and Simon Wright produced two seasons of The Sitcom Trials, at The Hub in South London, the Leicester Square Theatre, and the Soho Theatre. Both had been regular contributors to the Trials, with Declan appearing in the 2005 touring show and Simon appearing in the 2003 TV series. In 2009 they developed their own show, not using the Sitcom Trials format, with a different emphasis on script development and the very successful Sitcom Mission was born.

This year's Sitcom Mission submissions dates are as follows.
Launch 🚀 - April 1st
Gold entry closes - April 29th
Silver entry closes - June 16th
Closing date - June 30th
The format will be the same as previous years so check out the website for entry info and GOOD LUCK 😉
The Sitcom Mission writes:
With an emphasis firmly on script development, The Sitcom Mission is an international sitcom writing competition, 'The X Factor for sitcoms'. It showcases 15-minute sitcom scripts in front of the British TV and radio comedy industry.
The Grand Finals have been judged by a who's who of British comedy commissioning, including Shane Allen (Channel 4/Head of BBC Comedy); Jane Berthoud (BBC Radio); Sarah Farrell (Comedy Central); Lucy Lumsden and Ben Boyer (Sky); Saskia Schuster (ITV); Myfanwy Moore (ITV); Gregor SharpTilusha Ghelani and Chris Sussman (BBC TV); Paul Schlesinger(Hat Trick); and Iain Coyle and Tanya Qureshi (UKTV Commissioning).
One of the runners-up in 2011, In The Meantime, by Ciaran Murtagh and Andrew Jones, was optioned by Hat Trick Productions. Andrew says, "This is a great opportunity to have your work read and assessed by lots of very useful people!" Previous winners Thunderer by Bryn MillsWhat Next? by Emma Edwards and Abigail Dooley, and Yo Valet by Snez Naik were also optioned by Hat Trick.
The Sitcom Mission has the central aim of getting a situation comedy commissioned either on TV, radio or online. We've evolved the competition and the theme now is script development. We're looking for writers who can take notes, are tenacious, thrive on feedback, love re-writing and adore the process just as much as the end result.
Each year we work with up to four writers (or writing partnerships/groups) in order to develop their sitcoms and take them to an industry showcase in London. We've got the ear of the independent production companies, and the four winners will get feedback from development officers at companies such as AvalonBwarkSo TelevisionChannel XLeft Bank and others that are coming on board all the time.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Miranda: Sitcom comeback isn't imminent

Hart denies press reports
Miranda Hart has denied reports that her sitcom will return for a fourth series later this year.
The Sun claimed that the BBC has persuaded the comic to commit to another run, six years after the last.
But she last night tweeted several denials to the story, one simply saying: ‘Not true.’ Although she didn't rule out the idea altogether.
In response to the tabloid’s initial story, Hart said: ‘Don’t know where this came from, it’s news to me. Have thought about it but that’s all…  
‘I don’t know where it came from that there’s a new series of Miranda. I write and play her and she’s still on honeymoon!’
The Sun’s speculation rests on an unnamed source, who said: ‘Miranda has always been a huge hit on the BBC so getting her to sign up for another outing is a great result for them and viewers… All parties have come to an agreement and it’ll be back later this year if all goes to plan.’
Hart’s sitcom ran for three seasons from 2009 to 2012, achieving an audience of more than 11.5 million at its peak. 
A two-part Christmas episode in 2014, in which her character married long-term love interest Gary, played by Tom Ellis, was meant to draw a line under the show,and was even entitled The Finale.
But the sitcom has been the subject of frequent comeback speculation. Ellis has previously spoken about ‘revisiting’ Miranda, catching up with the couple in their married life with children.
In 2016, Sarah Hadland, who plays Miranda’s best friend Stevie, said ‘there will be something’ when asked about a cast reunion, and last summer Hart and Ellis – who now stars in Lucifer – were said to have arranged a meeting to discuss a return to the sitcom.
Speaking on The One Show in October, Hart said: ‘The lovely Tom Ellis was saying… that he’d like to see Miranda and Gary married. Now he’s got me thinking! 
‘There’s a thought there, to explore the comedy of marriage. Particularly early life marriage and how that would work. I’d quite like to see that.’
Since the sitcom ended, Hart has written books and performed in Annie on the West End stage. She had been set to revive both Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii! and classic gameshow The Generation Game, but pulled out of both. The latter will now be presented by Mel and Sue.
She presented the one-off Miranda Does Christmas for Channel 4 last month, as well as  The Royal Variety Performance on ITV, which included her performing sketches alongside Hadland and fellow sitcom co-stars Patricia Hodge and Sally Phillips. 
Hart will also appear in the upcoming Hollywood film The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, playing Dew Drop Fairy.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A quiet year from The Sitcom Trials

Hello everyone, and hasn't The Sitcom Trials been quiet this year? I can only apologise.

I can't help noticing this blog has only featured two posts all year so far, and one of those was an advertorial. Such a change from 2016 when we ran our biggest ever tournament, straddling the country, with our most successful final and the highest quality of entries any of us had seen.

After such a successful final, everyone's buzzing and talking about how we should do this again. Then what happens? Well, in my case I get the bill and realise that, try as I might, I've never managed to turn a profit from The Sitcom Trials. I also look at my workload and see how much time it takes, and the showrunners of all the various heats do the same.

So it was that, through 2017, I toured Socks Do Shakespeare, and the various members of the Sitcom Trials teams went on to great individual success, boosted no doubt by our experience with the 2016 Trials.

There's been talk of a few things that might revive The Sitcom Trials for 2018, including a probable podcast and the ever-tempting prospect of crowdfunding another tournament. And, if there's interest, any of these things can still happen.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who's checked in sporadically through the year to hear what's new, and a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year when it comes, to us all.

Kev F
Creator & Producer
The Sitcom Trials

Monday, 25 September 2017

Cloud Computing in Simple Terms: Why Store Data With NuoDB?

The cloud was once a buzzword known only to a select few. Now, it's fully integrated with the collective consciousness, making a name for itself in ads, product descriptions and casual conversation. Many people, however, remain unaware of what the cloud actually means, and telling them that it's a type of distributed computing doesn't always clarify the issue.

The Cloud Explained

The cloud is just a more specialized form of computer network. Like any regular office or enterprise network, it consists of connected computer hardware. The main difference, however, lies in the way it's put to use and how it fulfills its purpose.

Traditional network architectures are built around machines that use data connections to augment their efficiency and capabilities. With the cloud, networking is integral to functionality. Purpose-built cloud apps work to get the most out of networking by storing information more efficiently, running programs with the aid of increased computing power or ensuring that data is always available to remote users. Although you can theoretically create a cloud computing implementation in the same data center or local server pool that you'd use for a regular network, the software tools that you include in your deployment make a big difference in its functionality.

Different Kinds of Cloud Computing

Distributed computing in the cloud takes various forms. For instance, you can set up a media server implementation that lets users stream content such as films or music. Or you can create an app that allows multiple team members to access documents remotely and share their edits. Cloud implementations power everything from mapping software and social networks to basic remote storage tools that let subscribers save local space on their personal and office machines.

Why Are so Many Companies Using the Cloud?

It's worth noting that the cloud can handle most of the programs that you might run on a local server and vice versa. This begs the question: If you could just use a local machine, then why would you make the switch?

Distributed computing has a number of advantages over more traditional alternatives. Chief among these is the fact that since cloud software has its roots in
internet-connected network architectures, it's much easier to create apps that people can access from anywhere. Cloud-based storage appeals to those who want to save space on their devices, share information and retain the ability to access their data no matter where they are. Running enterprise or consumer-ready software in the cloud gives businesses the power to deliver full-featured, instantly available apps with native collaboration and sharing built in, which helps companies stay competitive in an increasingly data-hungry modern world.

NuoDB: How Does Cloud Storage Work?

Of course, the cloud isn't perfect, and one of its unique problems lies in the realm of data storage.
Traditional cloud database architectures like SQL make it impossible to scale up on-demand. Although alternatives like NoSQL resolve some of these issues, they force you to insert your data management code into the application layer or adhere to a small subset of usage cases, which can pose huge problems when you want to add new features. NuoDB helps you solve these problems with a novel approach known as NewSQL.

NuoDB's technology permits intelligent, shard-free scaling that minimizes storage complexity and actually leverages distributed computing to run faster as new servers are added. Unlike many implementations, it's also made to scale predictably, comply with SQL and free you from having to work with a single vendor to get the flexibility that your cloud deployments deserve. Learn more about the advantages by visiting

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