Saturday, 21 December 2013

Barbara & Jeffrey - January at the Wardrobe Theatre


Deceit, humour, role play. It's what keeps a marriage strong.

An astutely observed character portrait of a marriage in crisis, "Barbara and Jeffrey" is a fast, funny and frenetic one act play from writer, actress and stand-up Naomi Carter, a three-time winner of the Sitcom Trials

Snobbish, overbearing Barbara, and her long-suffering sexually frustrated husband Jeffrey, should be having a nice middle-class evening out at the local committee meeting in the village hall - but instead, for a number of increasingly hysterical reasons, they find themselves unable to leave their tastefully furnished house...and - for more increasingly hysterical reasons - they can't let anyone know they're in something of a tricky situation. As the night draws in and tensions run high, husband and wife must confront their problems head on... if only they could bring themselves to look at each other. Duration: one hour (approx), with no intermission. 

Monday 27th Jan, Tues 28th Jan, Weds 29th Jan, Thurs 30th Jan, Fri 31st Jan 
at The Wardrobe Theatre, Above The White Bear, 133 St Michael's Hill, Bristol BS2 8BS
8pm, doors open 7:30pm. £5

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sitcom Trials Christmas Get-Together - Sat 21


Hello,

"Millennium", the hard-hitting investigative journal that's at the heart of Stieg Larsson's "nordic noir" trilogy of dark crime novels ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"/"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"/"The Girl Who Played with Fire"), is apparently based on a magazine that never existed; "Washington Post" go-getting reporters Bernstein and Woodward, having brought down the Nixon administration with their reportage of the Watergate scandal, drew up a proposal for a publication that would do in print what Batman does in black leather - a go-anywhere, no-holds-barred remit to sniff out injustice and corruption, and, with cold hard facts, statistics, emails and compromising photos, kick the living crap out of uber-powerful bad guys .  Woodward and Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in the terrific movie) sent their proposal to the biggest, most influential news agencies in the world, expecting a bidding war.  Instead they were offered insane sums of dosh to quietly fuck off.  Which they did.

Stieg Larsson, though, was the real deal: a reporter who cared about getting to the truth, no matter the cost.  He wrote his "Millennium" crime books late into a career of dogged investigations into the the rich and powerful, more often than not finding his copy spiked by his editor, fired by various publications, or simply considered to be a right pain in the arse. Larsson couldn't be bought, distracted or dissuaded.  "Millennium" represented something truthful, a beacon of light in a murky world.  Someone had to speak up, someone had to put in print what was really going on.  

Stieg Larsson died in 2004 under suspicious circumstances. 

 The internet terrorist group Anonymous (if you're reading this, guys, my son is desperate to join), Swedish branch, created a virus named "Millennium" designed to hack into the servers of every major publishing company in the world, and wipe their hard drives. Alas, it didn't work.

The Christmas get-together of the Bristol Sitcom Trials team, plus loved ones, will start at the Llandoger Trow, King Street, Bristol, at 8pm.  It'll be a nice chance to meet up, have fun, share biscuits and arcane knowledge, and for me to thank everyone for being so very splendid, sexy and taller than me.  I'll be passing on best wishes from Kev F and the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, probably through the medium of dance (to songs by Echo and the Bunnymen), hogging the best spot at every bar, and - when catching glimpse of the lovely young woman at the keyboard in the band we drunkenly thought would be a good idea to see - wishing I'd bothered to iron a shirt.

You've all be brilliant (particularly you, for doing that thing) and I very much look forward to seeing you next Saturday.

With kind regards and very best wishes,

--Vince Stadon
Producer
Sitcom Trials Bristol

 

Merry Christmas to and from The Sitcom Trials

Seasons Greetings everyone, from me, the occasional producer of The Sitcom Trials, to you and everyone who's been involved in The Sitcom Trials through 2013, easily our busiest year in a decade.

As the man who dreamt up the Sitcom Trials all those years ago, then put it down for a while, my biggest thanks have to go to the people responsible for the show still existing, top of the list being Vince Stadon. Vince, as you know, won the Manchester Sitcom Trials in 2011 and asked if he could set up a Bristol team. Thanks to his and his team's continuous run of meetings, shows, fully-staged presentations in Bristol and Bath, script competitions and radio recordings ever since, the Bristol Sitcom Trials has now outlived the Manchester show that spawned it and helped revive the team in London and the competition this year that culminated at the Edinburgh Fringe. And big congratulations to Naomi and Lewis from the Bristol team whose sitcoms rocked that grand final.



Big thanks to the London Sitcom Trials team, especially director/superstars Sarit Chen, Chris Fitchew and Louisa Gummer without whom we could have done none of it. Such a high quality of work, it was an honour to be part of it, and if anyone wants to revive London in 2014, you have my support.

And big thanks, and commiserations, to the Manchester Sitcom Trials which is on hold purely as a result of losing its venue, the excellent Lass O'Gowrie. It was Lisa Connor & Gareth Kavanagh at the Lass who suggested putting on a Trials in 2011, after the show had taken 2010 off. And, two shows in, Vince Stadon's Checkpoint Dave won the night which led to Bristol, as we saw above. Meanwhile the Manchester team, led by Michelle Ashton then Sean Mason, continued with regular shows leading to this year's competition heats. All looked good for the season continuing this autumn when, out of the blue, we all discover the Lass O'Gowrie is being closed and revamped by its brewery. It will be losing its perfect, and award-winning, pub theatre, and even worse, losing its amazing management team who have turned it into the Pub Of The Year and one of the best venues to work in. Tragic, but I know everyone involved will re-emerge somewhere soon and when they do, hopefully the Trials will pop back up with them. In the meantime, so long and thanks for all the great shows.



And finally, my thanks to everyone involved in 2013's Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny competition that involved the London, Bristol and Manchester teams in heats showcasing 32 sitcoms chosen from 100s of entrants and building up to a grand final at the Gilded Balloon at the Edinburgh Fringe. Congratulations to the winner, Rosie Holt, who has won her own show at next year's Fringe.

All this in the year that marks the 10th anniversary of The Sitcom Trials' first TV series in ITV1. That second series is, I'm sure, just around the corner.

You can enjoy videos of most of the heats, the semis and the grand final of 2013's Sitcom Trials, along with episodes of the TV series and videos dating back to the earliest days of the show, here on Youtube and at sitcomtrials.co.uk, and keep following us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news (you can put Friday 4th April in your diaries as the date of the next Sitcom Trials in Bristol).

And a Happy New Year when it comes.

Kev F Sutherland
Creator & Executive Producer
The Sitcom Trials
sitcomtrials.co.uk


Veep


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sitcom Trials Bath Nov 30 report



(Left to right: Lewis Cook, David Lloyd, Glenys Leigh McIntyre, Naomi Carter, Tony Kennedy, Becky Brunning, Janet Adams, Laura Ollerton, Billy Quain)

 Vince Stadon, producer, writes: The Bristol Sitcom Trials team performed our last show of 2013 on Friday night at the Ring O Bells, Bath, as part of the extended Bath Comedy Festival.

The winning sitcom, as voted by a good-sized audience (around 40), was...


... "Being Social" by Naomi Carter.

Congrats to Naomi, commiserations to the other writers who's sitcoms went down well with an appreciative (if sometimes quiet) audience.

The host of the show was the splendid Becky Brunning, who kept proceedings running smoothly and hilariously, and who had a tremendous rapport with the audience. ("The next Sitcom Trials show is in Bristol, apparently," said Becky, "which is a much more common version of Bath.")

The running order was:

"Arthouse" by Graeme Knowles - went down well, a good start to the show. A fast and funny script, peppered with clever references to works of art, and excellent characters. Plus, having an actress dressed in hot pants and thigh length boots is always going to perk things up (and a big thank you to Bath Comedy Director Nick Steel for his cameo role as a besotted art lover).

Cast: Billy Quain, Naomi Carter, Lewis Cook, Laura Ollerton, David Lloyd (as the terrifying Bob Sharp), Janet Adams and Glenys Leigh McIntyre.

"Bookmobile" by Chris Dennis - Chris was at the show, and it was lovely to meet him. "Bookmobile" is a much more gentle, character-driven sitcom, the perfect contrast to the frenetic pace of "Arthouse", with a cracking cliffhanger. In rehearsals, a bit of business when a character named Penny has to whack a character named Ken around the head with a book always had me speed-dialling the Bristol Royal Infirmary Accident and Emergency Department, but on the night it went perfectly with no major headaches.

Cast: Janet Adams, Glenys Leigh McIntyre, Lewis Cook, David Lloyd.





"Hench" by Andrew Tate - a very blokey sitcom (James Bond, gadgets, football) with some great gags (especially about sharks) and a great villain. David Lloyd provided a John Motson-style football commentary as well as guest-starring as Wayne Rooney, to much laughter. All those 007 references made me nostalgic for earlier Sitcom Trials show, which seemed to be awash with them.

Cast: Lewis Cook, Billy Quain, Laura Ollerton, Tony Kennedy, David Lloyd.

During the intermission the audience got to work scribbling down their Pitch Fest entries, which Becky read out during the gaps between the final two sitcoms in the second half. The Bath audience, who had warmed up considerably, produced some cracking Pitch Fest ideas, including this strange entry:

Title: "Cereal Serials"

One line pitch:
"5 convicted serial killers discuss body disposal, moral injustice & finding the Jesus over breakfast."

Your name: Aileen Wurnos

You can always count on a Bath audience to display arcane knowledge.

"Being Social" by Naomi Carter - Kicked off the second half of the show brilliantly, with a great blend of character, plot and gags, leading to a frenetic cliffhanger. Tony Kennedy, playing social worker Jack, pitched his performance to a level of camp somewhere up the Himalayas, much to the delight of the audience, though my favourite bit is the non-verbal entrance and swift exit of a character named Margaret (played by Laura Ollerton) at a crucial moment.

Cast: Naomi Carter, Tony Kennedy, Janet Adams, David Lloyd, Laura Ollerton.

Finally, there was "Backstage" by Neil Tollfree - a gun, a spotlight, and Lewis Cook in his pants. Yes, LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS. That's worth the entry fee alone. This had to have been the sexiest Sitcom Trials show ever staged (Kev, any other contenders?). Another terrific sitcom, with well-drawn characters and snappy dialogue, and the perfect way to end the show.

Still reeling from LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS!, the audience voted for their favourite sitcom, and their favourite Pitch Fest entry.

The prize for the winning Pitch Fest is to have the team write and perform a mini-sitcom (about five minutes) for the next show. And we've been tasked with writing and performing...

..."You 'Aint 'Alf Hot, Mum": "Mockumentary following a middle-aged mother's daily struggle with the menopause whilst trying to fight off her incestuous teenage son's advances" by Chris Dennis (writer of the splendid "Bookmobile"). So that'll be a hoot, and something to look forward to in our next show. Congrats to Chris, who'll be given a free seat at the Wardrobe Theatre to see how we get on.

As mentioned up top, Naomi Carter's "Being Social" was the winning sitcom, and had its second half performed, bringing to close a most enjoyable night.

My thanks go to our wonderful cast - Janet Adams, Naomi Carter, LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS!, Tony Kennedy, David Lloyd, Glenys Leigh McIntyre, Laura Ollerton, and Billy Quain.


 And to the writers - Naomi Carter, Chris Dennis, Graeme Knowles, Andrew Tate, and Neil Tollfree.

And to Nick Steel, Director of the Bath Comedy Festival, plus the very helpful staff at the Ring O Bells.

And to Kev F, as always.

The next Bristol Sitcom Trials show is on Friday 4th April 2014, at our usual home of the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol. Details of how to enter your script will be forthcoming in the new year.

We'll be announcing the broadcast of the first batch of the Radio Sitcom Trials within a few weeks, so watch this space. Plus, details of our second one-act play, which will run at the Wardrobe Theatre for the last week of January.



Sadly, the show wasn't filmed. Though with LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS! that might not be a bad thing.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Go Wild In The Country vs The Client - new TV clips

From the Sitcom Trials TV series, the classic episode featuring Go Wild In The Country vs The Client is now up in HD (previously it's only been available in a low-res early-days-of-YouTube version with poor sound). Admittedly the widescreen picture remains squished, but you can't have everything. Remarkably watchable, please enjoy.



Above Go Wild In The Country by Jane Simon, below The Client by Harris, Blakewill and Wainwright. Both sitcoms star Victoria Jeffrey, Dan March, Gerard Foster and Louisa Gummer. The viewing audience voted for their favourite, and you can see the ending of the winner after The Client.



Monday, 28 October 2013

Bath Trials Script Selection Results

The script selection for the November Bath Sitcom Trials has been taking place under the aegis of Bristol producer Vince Stadon. He writes:

Hello!

Thought I'd better post the results before the storm hits us and we're thrown back in time to the Dark Ages when nobody could get their news from George Takei's Facebook feed.

A huge thank you to all the participants - as many have remarked, the standard was really high this time round, with lots of voters um-ing and ah-ing over "maybe"s and "no"s.

To all the writers who submitted a sitcom script - thank you! It takes courage to put your work out there for peer review. I hope everyone found the process to be worthwhile, and the feedback useful.

25 valid sets of votes came in (I discounted those that were voting for one script on its own - honestly, it's not difficult to spot cheeky attempts to sway the votes!), and the results are as follows:

"Arthouse" 33
"Bookmobile" 22
"Hench" 17
"Socks - Pub" 16
"Buck Knightly" 15
"Backstage - Gun" 13
"On Message" 11
"Being Social" 10
"Honest" 10
"Shuuush!" 9
"Demeddlers" 9


"Ticking Over" 8
"2-to-1" 7
"Cult of Stan" 6
"HMS Bagworth" 6
"Men at Sea" 5
"Below the Line" 4
"Eden Meadows - caravan" 3
"Red or Dead" 2
"Cassie" 1
"Les Happy" 0
"Since You've Been Gone" 0
"Baxter" -1
"Flick of the Wrist" -1
"Chode Charity" -2
"2 Dimwits in a Lift" -3
"The Great Escape" -3
"The Magic Man" -3
"Turbulence" -3
"Urban Bohemia" -3
"Kate & Mika" -2
"Me, Myself & I" -5
"Mr Ego" -5
"Old Boy Band" -5
"The Social Committee" -6
"Daisy Daisy" -8
"Smooth Criminals" -8
"Donnie - Appraisal" -10
"Not Book Smart - Date" -10
"The Hole" -10
"Nobody & His Cat" -12

The top ten scripts will be read by the Bristol team, and FIVE will be chosen to be staged at the Ring O' Bells, Bath, on Friday 29th November. I'll update everyone on Sunday 3rd or Monday 4th November.

Since the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre will be in sunny Grangemouth on the night of the Bath show, I've just this second created the Welsh Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre and it is they who will be performing the "Socks - Pub" script that made the top ten. Or, thinking about it, it might just be best if we wish the Socks all the best for their Grangemouth show, and discount them from the running this time round. This means that "Demeddlers" now gets a place in the top ten, and is in with a shout of making the show.

In the interests of fairness and openness, I'll upload my spreadsheet containing all the votes to the SitsVac Yahoo group files section, so you can all check my workings. 

Thank you all again for taking part, now give yourselves a round of applause.

Kind regards,

--Vince

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sitcom Trials SYTYWF video

At last it's here, the video of the Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny final from the Edinburgh Fringe, highlights thereof. Enjoy.



Filmed by MB Productions, to the highest quality we've had yet, this is just a taste of the 5 sitcoms in the final on the night, with appearances from our MC Mark Dolan and the boss of the Gilded Balloon Karen Koren.

 

The (next) Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. For details,follow this link.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 1 Father Ted

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. All we can say is go on go on go on go on, enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we close our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms with the Number 1 where we inevitably find...



Father Ted began life as a comedy character performed by Arthur Mathews who, with Graham Linehan, developed him into the sitcom we know, produced by Geoffrey Perkins and immortalised by Dermot Morgan. After three series and a Christmas special, Dermot Morgan was unsure about continuing with the character, saying "I don't want to be the next Clive Dunn and end up playing the same character for years." His wish was to be granted. He leaves behind situation comedy's greatest sitcom with the word "father" in the title (and one of British television's best sitcoms of all time ever).



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 2 Father's Day

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 2 it's...



Father's Day was devised by Beatles biographer and Punch journalist Hunter Davies, starred John Alderton and was one of Channel 4's earliest sitcoms, running for 14 episodes between 1982 and 1984. An obvious predecessor of Outnumbered, it doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry (try Googling it, you'll find Paul Cornell's Doctor Who episode of the same name) and imdb can only offer that it was largely written by Peter Spence and that it co-starred Dominique Barnes who was also in Colin's Sandwich, and was directed by Leszek Burzynski. It was that high profile and is that well remembered. You bastards. The theme tune was by Difford and Tilbrook of Squeeze. Really, nobody remembers this show?



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 3 Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 3 we have...



Wait Till Your Father Gets Home was the first primetime animated sitcom to run for more than a single season since The Flintstones and would be the only one until The Simpsons 15 years later. Running for 48 episodes between 1972 and 1974, WTYFGH was a Hanna Barbera production, voiced by Tom Bosley (before Happy Days), with a good line in satire. Fascinatingly, imdb tells us that there was a live action version of the pilot filmed shortly after the animated version. The live action version would have starred Van Johnson as Harry, but that version never aired.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 4 Oh Father

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. If you want to prove it, you can enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 4 we remember...



Oh Father starring Derek Nimmo was the sequel to Oh Brother and All Gas and Gaiters, in which Brother Dominic was promoted to the rank of Father in the Anglican priesthood. It ran for 7 episodes in 1973, paling into insignificance alongside Oh Brother's 20 episodes and All G & G's 34 between 1965 and 1971. Created by husband and wife writing team Pauline Devaney and Edwin Apps it began life as part of Comedy Playhouse, a series in which brand new sitcoms were piloted and competed to become the audience's favourite and win a long-running series. What a splendid idea for a TV show.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 5 $h*! My Dad Says

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 5 we find...



$h*! My Dad Says was the first sitcom to be based on a Twitter account, in this case one in which Justin Halpern reported quotes from his father Sam. It was cancelled after 18 episodes, which by American standards is not a particularly long run, and joins other William Shatner television successes Barbary Coast, TJ Hooker, Tek War, and that sketch on Saturday Night Live where he tells a load of Star Trek fans to "get a life". And Have I Got News For You, he was good on that.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 6 Dad

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 6 it's...

Dad BBC.jpg

Dad by Andrew Marshall (of Whoops Apocalypse and 2point4 Children fame), starring George Cole, ran on BBC in 1997 and 1999. Wikipedia records that its episode titles were Dadism', 'Dadmestic', 'Dadcipline', 'Habadadery', 'Dadcoholic', 'Holidad', 'Transcendadtal', 'Dadmocracy', 'Reprodadtion', 'Securidad'. 'Dad's Arsenal' and 'Dad Calm'. None of which is painful to read, nor to transcribe.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 7 Bless Me Father

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 7 it's...



Bless Me Father was an ITV sitcom starring Arthur Lowe as a catholic priest. Written and narrated by former novice curate Peter De Rosa, under the pseudonym Neil Boyd, and adapted from his series of autobiographical novels, it ran for 21 episodes between 1978 and 1981. The British Comedy Guide describes it as "An unjustly forgotten gem, which we would certainly urge any sitcom fan to try".



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 8 Father Knows Best

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 8 it's...



Father Knows Best is one of the earliest situation comedies as we know them. Begun on NBC radio in 1949, created by writer Ed James, it starred Robert Young as the eponymous patron of a family in the midwest. When it transferred to CBS TV in 1954, the show was sponsored by Kent cigarettes. New episodes were made up until 1960, after which the series remained in reruns throughout the 1960s (a rerun episode was interrupted on ABC in November 1963 to break the news of the assassination of President Kennedy). Reunion stories were made in 1977, the series was still being shown on the Family Channel in the 1990s, and all 6 series of the original show remain available on DVD. It has never been shown in the UK and most likely never will be.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 9 Dads

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, we continue our look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 9 it's...

DADS
Peter Riegert as David (right) and Seth Green as Eli in Dads
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Clasen/Fox

Dads is the critics choice for worst new sitcom of the fall 2013 television season, according to Starpulse. Vulture says "Dads, about two adult men dealing with their eccentric, interfering, and altogether insufferable fathers, is a bad sitcom. And yet I found it oddly fascinating", while Slate reported "If, in this new, subpar TV season, describing a show as one of its “best” is not that complimentary, describing a show as one of its worst means something special: Dads is the worst new comedy in quite some time."

Given that Dads is the work of Family Guy and American Dad creator Seth MacFarlane should be reassuring to all successful comedians, writers and producers whose latest television work has not been universally well received. Watch this space for the rest of the Top 10 countdown.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Top 10 Father sitcoms - No 10 Father Dear Father

In the wake of BBC 1's new hit sitcom Father Figure, a remarkable number of people seem to be suggesting they could write a better sitcom than that. Really? well if you want to prove it, why not enter a script into the next Sitcom Trials - deadline October 20th, entry is free, details are here. In the meantime, let's have a look at the Top 10 "Father" sitcoms. And at Number 10 it's...



Father Dear Father (see Wikipedia entry) was written by Johhnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke (who went on to create Man About The House, George & Mildred and Robins Nest) and starred Patrick Cargill as a crime novelist with a St Bernard dog, a housekeeper, and two daughters for whom he played house husband. It ran on ITV from 1969 to 1973 then enjoyed a follow up series in Australia in 1978 and a spin-off movie. US series The Empty Nest and Daddy's Girl (starring Dudley Moore) bear strong resemblances to the show but are not directly connected. Crime novelists with St Bernard Dogs do not appear in nearly enough situation comedies these days, much to the loss of the artform. Watch this space for the rest of the Top 10 countdown.



The Sitcom Trials takes place at The Ring O' Bells, Bath, Nov 29 2013. 5 sitcoms go head to head, who wins? You decide. To enter a script, follow this link, deadline October 20th 2013.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Bath Sitcom Trials - Nov 29th, enter now!



Vince Stadon, producer of the Bristol Sitcom Trials, writes:

The Bristol team have one final Sitcom Trials show this year, in Bath, and we're welcoming script submissions.

The show will be part of the extended autumn season of the Bath Comedy Festival, and will take place at the Ring O' Bells on November 29th. And for the winning entry in the show there is a very special prize.
We're in the process of setting up the Radio Sitcom Trials, and we'll offer the writer of the winning sitcom the chance to have their script recorded as a full-cast audio play (with music and FX) and then hopefully broadcast on BBC local radio sometime next year.
http://www.bathcomedy.com/whats-on?id=214

THE BRIEF for submission to The Bristol Sitcom Trials.

The Sitcom Trials wants situation comedy scripts that a small group of actors can perform in a live environment with minimal stage in front of an audience, who will hopefully laugh. Ideally these sitcoms will be so marvellous that the TV & radio industry representatives in the audience will snap them up immediately.

THE FORMAT:

Your script must have a first 'half' of less than 8 minutes.
This first half should end in a cliffhanger, or something that leaves
the audience wanting more.

It must then have a final scene of 2 or 3 minutes long. This will be
performed only if your sitcom is the winner on the night

Scripts should come in at around 12 pages.

Your script must have NO MORE THAN 4 CHARACTERS. (We're flexible on this, but it's good to keep it focused on just a few characters)

The sitcoms we are to test out in our regular pub theatre shows with an eye to them being developed for TV must be PERFORMABLE LIVE (ie no filmed or location inserts)
&
ON ONE MINIMAL SET.

Think in terms of a radio script.

UPLOAD SCRIPTS TO THE FILES:

Upload your entries to the appropriate folder in the files section of the egroup. You will need to join the free egroup to do so:

http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/SitsVac/files/

And you can find a handy VOTE and REVIEW thing on the spangly Sitcom Trials website:

http://sitcomtrials.blogspot.co.uk/

Deadline for entries - midnight Sunday October 20th, 2013
Deadline for voting - midnight Sunday October 27th, 2013

The readthrough, with the Bristol team, will be on Sunday November 3rd, after which we'll announce which five scripts have made it through.

VOTING:

All members of the SitsVac egroup/British Comedy Guide Sitcom Trials thread, you included, will be invited to read, review, and vote on all scripts in contention. Vote YES, MAYBE or NO as to each one's potential and add a short one paragraph review. Your votes will not be counted unless you include a review.

Send reviews to the Sits Vac TV group message board (http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/SitsVac/), or to the Sitcom Trials thread at the British Comedy Guide Forum (http://www.comedy.co.uk/forums/thread/23202/)

Writers are welcome to vote on their own scripts.

Votes are then totalled thus; Yes = 2 points, Maybe = 1 point, No = minus -1 point. This way we draw up a shortlist for a script reading, from which we select the items to go into the stage show.

PERFORMANCE:

The top ten entries (as voted by you) will be read by the team, from which we'll select FIVE scripts to be performed on Friday November 29, 2013, at the Ring O' Bells, Bath.

This will be a rehearsed-reading/script-in-hand/radio-style affair, though we're not averse to using the odd prop or two. These sitcoms will be in competition with each other, the winner to be decided an audience vote.

There is no set theme this time round (such as the Halloween/Eurovision/Sci-Fi Trials) - you're free to come up with absolutely anything you want.

PRIZE:

We're in the process of setting up the Radio Sitcom Trials, and we'll offer the writer of the winning sitcom the chance to have their script recorded as a full-cast audio play (with music and FX) and then hopefully broadcast on BBC local radio sometime next year.

Any questions?

Happy scribbling

Vince Stadon

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Sitcom Trials Edinburgh 2013 - Producer's Notes


(Here we see Anna from the Bristol Sitcom Trials team taking a selfie with Steve Coogan in the exclusive VIP Loft Bar at the Gilded Balloon, honestly you can't take them anywhere)


I would like to personally thank and congratulate every single person involved in this year's Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny competition, which ran heats & semi finals in London, Manchester and Bristol and culminated in the Grand Final at the Edinburgh Fringe, won by Rosie Holt's Never Better which will be getting its own run at the Gilded Balloon in 2014.

In particular I must praise the unsung heroes who, in the whirlwind of Edinburgh, had hardly a mention. Vince Stadon, the producer and driving force behind the Bristol Sitcom Trials, is the person I need to thank most. If it wasn't for him asking if he could start up a Bristol team in 2012, after his script had won in Manchester in 2011, we wouldn't now have a regular series of shows running in Bristol, with a large dedicated team including writer-performers and an improv group, who have also recorded radio versions of their sitcoms which will be going out later this year, and who provided two of the five finalists in this year's tournament.

It was Vince's establishment and continued running of the Bristol show, that gave us the incentive for the Manchester shows to continue in the various hands of Lisa, Michelle, Sean and now Judgement Dave - remembering it was Lisa & Gareth in Manchester who revived the Sitcom Trials in 2011 - and then to reconvene the London Sitcom Trials, whose stalwarts Louisa, Sarit and Chris have helped bring about our most popular shows in years and without whom the semi finals would not have been possible. There are many others to thank, including guest hosts, video makers, and all our judges, too numerous to list here, many thanks to you all.

I feel a little sorry that the Manchester team and most of the London team weren't able to be involved in the Edinburgh final. What with it having no budget for the performers, everyone had to be there at their own expense, which meant it was worth it for the writer-performers, but that a lot of the show had to be cast from actors who were already in Edinburgh doing other shows. Sean's team from Manchester and Sarit & Louisa's from London were with us in spirit and I, at least, knew none of us would have been there without your efforts.

I have also to thank Karen Koren, the Artistic Director of The Gilded Balloon, who took a big gamble on associating The Sitcom Trials with the So You Think You're Funny Competition she's been running for twenty years, and whose organisation and production staff did the bulk of the work to make the Sitcom Trials SYTYWF Final happen and to run as smoothly as it did. Our future is in her hands, and we should all take very seriously any thoughts she has on how well we all did.

Which brings us to notes for the future. Should we carry on with the Sitcom Trials? The answer from all sides is a resounding yes. Though none of us makes any money out of it, there seems to be in inexorable flow of people wanting to take part in it so, as long as we can make it worth our individual whiles, then on it will go.

Should we run it as a tournament again next year? If we get the blessing and involvement of The Gilded Balloon and So You Think You're Funny again, then I say yes we should. If so, that series of shows will begin in the spring and follow a similar pattern to 2013, with heats in various cities and a final in Edinburgh.

The "various cities" bit is something that might develop in the coming months, as I have had talks with people from two cities who might be able to bring together actors enough to do further local events. If there's anyone out there who works with actors in a particular locale and think they'd like to try their hand at a Sitcom Trials event, do please get in touch.

Lessons learned from this year's Final. In future we need to keep cast sizes smaller and we need to perform better to the space we're in. In comparision to our sister show, Sketch Club, which performed the previous night in the same venue as part of the same competition but who used head-mounted radio mikes for all their performers, we suffered from chronic inaudibility. There was not a sitcom which didn't have at least one actor whose words were lost in that space, largely as a result of all our heats being held in much smaller rooms. Also having vast casts of 8 per script meant we had scripts which were a bit on the long side, and a backstage area that must have been like the Black Hole of Calcutta. (I relaxed the rules for entries this year, but in future I feel we should return to the strict 4-per-script casting that we established many years ago).

These are all small considerations, but worth making a note of now. And now we needn't think on them again until the spring of 2014 when, if it is going to happen, another tournament will be announced. Before then, I hope we're going to see Sitcom Trials stand-alone shows, full of brand new exciting situation comedies good enough to be put onto the radio and the telly, in at least three cities (and hopefully more) before Christmas.

Who's in?

Will we find the new Chickens? The new Nightingales? The new Birds Of A Feather? Let's find out.

Kev F
Producer
The Sitcom Trials

Veep 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Sitcom Trials SYTYWF Final Programme

The audience of the Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny final at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013 took away a programme with details of the show and its entrants. Here, for your pleasure, is a copy for you. Click to download the pdf (but beware, the front cover's quite a big file, the centre pages are much smaller).





Following a successful competition season in Manchester, Bristol and London and a Grand Final in Edinburgh, the Sitcom Trials will be continuing with brand new shows of fresh material in the Autumn. Keep watching here, Facebook and Twitter for news.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Sitcom Trials SYTYWF 2013 - the winner is...


Photo ©2013 Steve Ullathrone

The first ever Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny final was held at the Gilded Balloon on the Edinburgh Fringe on Wednesday August 21st 2013. Five situation comedies, the finalists from 6 heats and two semi finals in Manchester, Bristol and London, competed head to head in a competition compered by Mark Dolan and produced by Sitcom Trials creator Kev F Sutherland.

And the winner is Rosie Holt (pictured above with her cast) the writer and star of the sitcom Never Better. Her prize is the offer a month long run of her developed sitcom as a show at the Gilded Balloon at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. The Gilded Balloon will also be working with Rosie on the TV development of her sitcom.

The judges who chose the winner were Sanjeev Kohli (writer & star of Fags, Mags & Bags), Jemma Rodgers (producer of Vicious and How Not To Live Your Life), and Karen Koren (boss of the Gilded Balloon and creator of So You Think You're Funny).

The audience also voted as part of the show, choosing their favourite, the ending of which they were treated to (under the time-honoured Sitcom Trials format). The audience chose to see the ending of Cast by Peter Etherington, with Never Better coming second, and Situation Normal by Naomi Carter coming a close third.

The 5 sitcoms in the final were
Theatre by Andrew Tate
None Of The Above written by and co-starring Lewis Cook
Never Better written by and co-starring Rosie Holt
Situation Normal written by and co-starring Naomi Carter
Cast by Peter Etherington

Congratulations to all the writers, directors and performers who took part and who reached this stage of the competition. Stay tuned for news of The Sitcom Trials forthcoming shows and competitions and how budding writers and performers can become involved.




Sunday, 18 August 2013

Mark Dolan to host Sitcom Trials & Sketch Club Finals


Mark Dolan to host the Big Finals

markdolan 
Mark Dolan is to host the finals of Sketch Club’s “Best New Sketch Act 2013″ and The Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Mark is best known for hosting Channel 4′s “Balls of Steel” and is also appearing in his own one man show at the Gilded Balloon this year.

Both of these comedy finals take place in the Gilded Balloon Teviot Wine Bar at 10pm  - Sketch Club on August 20th, and The Sitcom Trials on August 21st.


Veep



Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny Grand Final Aug 21st Edinburgh

For the first time, Edinburgh Fringe's legendary So You Think You're Funny? competition now includes sitcoms, presented as The Sitcom Trials - So You Think You Write Funny? Following heats and semi finals in Manchester, Bristol and London, the Grand Final takes place at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh on Wednesday Aug 21st.



Five sitcoms have made it to the Final, from the 30 that were performed in the heats and the hundreds entered from around the country. Have we found the next Miranda? You decide. (Miranda, Hart that is, was the star of the very first Edinburgh Fringe Sitcom Trials at the Gilded Balloon back in 2001, see the video here).

The 5 finalists in the 2013 Sitcom Trials Final are
Cast written by Peter Etherington
None Of The Above written by and co-starring Lewis Cook
Never Better written by and co-starring Rosie Holt
Situation Normal written by and co-starring Naomi Carter
Theatre written by Andrew Tate

The 5 sitcoms compete head to head, with the audience voting for their favourite and only seeing the ending of the one they choose. Meanwhile a panel of judges, including the Gilded Balloon's Karen Koren, producer Jemma Rodgers, and Fags Mags & Bags creator Sanjeev Kohli, choose the ultimate winner. The final ia compered by Mark Dolan.

Tickets for the final are on sale now, and we would urge you to book them sooner rather than later as this is a one-off production at the Edinburgh Fringe so is bound to sellout.

The Sitcom Trials SYTYWF Final - 10pm, Weds August 21st at The Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe


Veep

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sitcom Trials SYTYWF 1st semi final video



Here is the video from The first of the two semi finals of The Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny at the Camden Head London, July 19 2013, featuring interviews with judges Ewen Macintosh and Fenella Fudge and clips from all 6 videos in contention.

The final takes place at The Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, August 21st, book now to avoid disappointment.

Veep

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sitcom Trials SYTYWF Finalists announced

Following six heats in Bristol, Manchester & London and two semi finals in London, we can now announce the five sitcoms that will be competing in the Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny grand final at the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe, Weds Aug 21st 2013. They are:

Cast written by Peter Etherington
None Of The Above written by and co-starring Lewis Cook
Never Better written by and co-starring Rosie Holt
Situation Normal written by and co-starring Naomi Carter
Theatre written by Andrew Tate

Congratulations to all the writers, performers and directors who have participated in these shows, and the best of luck to the finalists. Tickets for the final are on sale now, and we would urge you to book them sooner rather than later as this is a one-off production at the Edinburgh Fringe so is bound to sellout.



Not Going Out
You can see excerpts from the finalists and the runners up in these videos:
London heat 2 (featuring Cast)
Bristol heat 2 (featuring Situation Normal)
Manchester heat 1 (featuring Theatre)
Semi final 1 (featuring Never Better & None Of The Above)

Friday, 21 June 2013

London Trials heat 6 video

Here, courtesy of Nadine Allen's excellent camera and editing work, is the video from The Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny heat 6 in London. I think you might enjoy this one...



London Heat 2 Fri June 14
- Medicine to Follow, Keyworth & Clompus
 -    You Banker, Richard Dowling
-    Shirley’s Temple, Chen & Leigh
 -    Cuz Zombie, Belgrave & Coppin (animation)
-    Cast, Peter Etherington

And the winner is... watch the video, it's worth the suspenseful wait. And like I say, you'll enjoy it.

Not that you won't enjoy the clips of our other shows, like this heat in Manchester and this one in Bristol, but you might notice with those that sometimes the audience is a bit quiet (eg ie Bristol) or the actors are reading from scripts in a radio style, albeit brilliantly, and the audience is a bit quiet (ie eg Manchester), or the video quality's a bit rubbish (that would be Bristol, shot by me, not Manchester which is shot in hi def by the fabulous Judgement Dave). But in the above video we have the triple whammy of laughter, quite nice lighting, fully staged sitcoms and - okay we have the quadruple whammy, including - Nadine's camera and editing. All I'm saying is when you look up "You had to be there" in the dictionary, that it'll say "most Sitcom Trials video clips". But in this instance you get quite a representative taste of a night of sitcoms.

Though there's a bit too much of me. I usually edit me out completely. Bad hair night, and diet ahoy. Ignore me and this is a nifty video clip, which includes the sitcoms, the running order and the results. We'll see you all at the semi finals.



Sitcom Trials - So You Think You Write Funny? competition:
Fri July 19 - Semi Final 1 (Camden Head, London)
Mon July 22 - Semi Final 2 (Camden Head, London)

Weds August 21 - Grand Final, The Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Line ups for the Sitcom Trials SYTYWF semi finals

Announcing the line-ups for the Sitcom Trials So You Think You Write Funny semi finals in London.



Situation Normal, Naomi Carter – Bristol heat 2 WINNER
None Of The Above , Lewis Cook – Bristol heat 1 WINNER
Never Better, Rosie Holt  - London heat 1 Runner Up
Cuz Zombie Library, Belgrave & Coppin – London heat 2 Runner Up
Oh Be Joyful, James McMellon  - Manchester heat 2 WINNER
Theatre, Andrew Tate Manchester heat 1 Runner Up


Trainspotting, Graeme Knowles – Bristol heat 2 Runner Up
Three In Tow, Eoin Carney – London heat 1 WINNER 
 Cast, Peter Etherington – London heat  2 WINNER
Cash & Currie, Bobby Finn  - Manchester heat 1 WINNER 
Project Romance, Harriet Cummings – Bristol heat 1 Runner Up 

Both semi finals take place at the Camden Head, 100 Camden High St, London, doors opening 7.30pm, tickets £5. The Grand Final will be at the Edinburgh Fringe on August 21st.
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