Wednesday 27 June 2012

Sitcom Trials Bristol Fri June 30th

Yes indeed, there's only two days left until the next Bristol show, which is at the Wardrobe Theatre, Friday June 29th, 8pm.

5 brand new sitcoms competing for your vote!

A love-stricken wiccan! A teenage ASBO girl with attitude! A team obsessed with statistics! A low-budget production company! A farmer who'd rather be a detective!

Cliffhangers! Plot twists! Surprises! It's all in The Sitcom Trials!

Pitch Fest! Your ideas for brilliant new sitcoms - the best one (as voted by the audience) will win a prize!

Our very special guest host: JAMES DOWDESWELL!

Former Bristol Sitcom Trials alumni, James Dowedeswell is an imaginative storytelling comedian who combines deft stand-up with daft stories. He is a headline act at most top UK comedy clubs and he was recently the featured stand-up on Russell Howard's Good News. He has appeared in Ricky Gervais' Extras, and The World Stands Up, Edinburgh And Beyond on the Paramount Comedy Channel.

CAST: Janet Adams, Naomi Carter, Lewis Cook, Alistair Hedderman,
Troy Hewitt, John Lomas, Ziggy Ross, Louisa Smith, Linda Westmoreland, and the cast of Closer Each Day

WRITERS: Luke Cedar, Lewis Cook, Oliver Ley, Vince Stadon, Kev F Sutherland, and with additional material by the cast.

DIRECTOR: Roz Hopkinson PRODUCER: Vince Stadon EXEC. PRODUCER: Kev F Sutherland.

Monday 18 June 2012

Fawlty Towers rejection

Just spotted on Facebook, something to reassure all the budding sitcom writers out there.

If you want the chance to get one step closer to being rejected by the BBC, entries are invited to the Sitcom Trials Manchester, deadline June 30th.

What BBC Three Wants

(courtesy of Chortle)
BBC Three has revealed the sort of comedy shows it wants to make in a briefing document sent out to producers.

The channel launched a scheme called Funny On Three, which aimed to encourage established writers into creating sitcoms, and sent a memo to companies who might pitch ideas, explaining what it was looking for.
Although filled with the usual TV broadcasting buzzwords such as 'distinctive', 'bold', 'inventive', 'fresh', 'relatable' and 'warm', the brief outlines what BBC Three controller Zai Bennett is seeking.

The Funny On Three initiative, run by BBC creative head of comedy, Simon London and backed by Bennett and comedy commissioning controller Cheryl Taylor, cited three potential scenarios it was 'particularly interested' in. They are:

1. A young woman comes of age only to discover the father 'that walked out' when she was younger is, in fact, a sperm donor. She sets out to discover her half siblings.
2. Two brothers who are chalk and cheese inherit the family firm. They are delighted they can now flex their entrepreneurial muscles. However, their contrasting personalities and lifestyles are not conducive to happiness and the workplace soon becomes a war zone.
3. A fashion-conscious teen and her gay brother are forced to move to a rural community and are horrified by what faces them.

Priorities are a studio-based sitcom to appeal to the channel's young audience and a more realistic, single-camera show to follow in the footsteps of previous hit Gavin And Stacey

The memo said: 'Our top priority is to find a studio show with well-defined, original, likeable, youthful characters like Two Pints of Lager, IT Crowd or Big Bang Theory.'

And that meant writing that should be 'innovative, laugh-out-loud and edgy without being patronising of our audience. That’s likely to mean post-watershed ideas that resonate with the audience’s lives and experience.'

The brief also said that executives were seeking ideas that went beyond London, 'with a modern, diverse feel to the fore'.

However, the document also said that BBC Three is ‘never afraid to try new stuff’, so the Funny On Three initiative welcomed innovative shows that could replicate the cult success of the likes of The Mighty Boosh, The Young Ones and Bottom. 'We welcome scripts full of innovation and cultish comedy characters and recognise that this brief may be of particular interest to writer performers,' it said.

The deadline for Funny On Three passed two weeks ago, with ten writers the corporation hopes to work with being selected next week. The BBC said: 'There is no guarantee that the scripts that come through this process will be commissioned. However, we hope that long-term relationships will be forged and opportunities to win commissions will be established.'

If you want the chance to get one step closer to finding out whether you meet the BBC's criteria, entries are invited to the Sitcom Trials Manchester, deadline June 30th.

Read more:

Saturday 16 June 2012

Funny Women & The Sitcom Trials

Many thanks to Funny Women for plugging the script-call for the Manchester Sitcom Trials on their blog. Looking back, it's clear that The Sitcom Trials already has quite a history of Funny Women...

Two of the last three winners of the Sitcom Trials have been written by women. This is in the context that 90% of script entries are sent in by men. You're right, I ought to tot up those figures, oughtn't I? Okay, here goes.

Eurovision Sitcom Contest (May 2012) won by Sarit Chen & Tova Leigh (both female), runners up 3 male, 1 male/female team; scripts entered online 19 male, 2 female = 90.4% male

Bristol Sitcom Trials (March 2012) won by Luke Cedar (male), runners up 1 female, 2 male, 1 male/female team; scripts entered online 32 male, 6 female = 84.2% male

Manchester Sitcom Trials (Oct 2011) won by Debbie Rayner (female), runners up 4 male; scripts entered online 17 male, 1 female = 94.5% male

So, not a bad guess (before looking those figures up) that our scripts come in from 90% male writers. It would be good to see that balance redressed. Because of course we have a distinguished achievement record in the Sitcom Trials past, with Perrier winner Laura Solon appearing in our 2002 Edinburgh Fringe show, and of course Miranda Hart starring in our 2001 Edinburgh run, with some of our shows (eg this Sitcom Trials final from London 2007) reading like a veritable who's who of top women in comedy today, inc Sara Pascoe, Cariad Lloyd, Jessica Fostekew to name but a few.

So let us hope the support of Funny Women will bring fresh comedy writers, of all sexes, into the fold, not just for this show but for the future of The Sitcom Trials. And I realise, as I type this, I am in danger of becoming patronising, sexist, demeaning and cheesy. So, I'm away.

Deadline for scripts for the next Sitcom Trials is midnight Saturday June 30th - enter now.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Sitcom Trials now on Twitter - please follow

Hi Sitcom Trials fans and participants. You will be delighted to know The Sitcom Trials now has its own Twitter page, from which all Sitcom Trials news will henceforth come.

It's Twitter @SitcomTrials

If you'll follow that it'll save you having to also get tweets from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass, and those godawful pop videos I go mad tweeting late some nights. You're welcome.

Funny Women - Comedy Writing Award

Funny WomenFunny Women
We know that not every writer is a performer, so this is an opportunity for those happier behind the scenes to truly shine. That's why we're happy to be continuing the Comedy Writing Award in 2012, in association award winning comedy production company The Comedy Unit.
We are pleased to confirm  our judges: award winning writers Hattie Naylor and Harry Venning, co-founder of the BritMums network, Jennifer Howze, newspaper columnist and Funny Women Charity Challenge winner Rowan Pelling and Creative Director of Development at The Comedy Unit, Gavin Smith. You can read more about the judges HERE

The Prize:

£500 script option fee for a 12 month development period, including three weeks intensive mentoring to complete the 30 minute script with dedicated access to a professional script editor.

The Criteria:

  • Short synopsis of the idea – Maximum one page.
  • Entries will be 8 – 15 pages maximum of a 30 minute comedy script
  • The comedy script can be aimed at radio or television/visual production. However we are not looking for a live play.
  • The comedy script can take the form of sitcom, sketch, comedy drama, character monologues, (anything really) but it must feel like it would work as a coherent whole across a 30 Minute audience experience. I.E. ten 3 minute web viral episodes stuck together is not a 30 minute script.
  • The sample does not have to begin at the start of the script but must run straight through from where it does start.
  • If you feel it necessary you can add a short paragraph (max) detailing any relevant / key story information that isn’t in the script sample (EG: how the story started before the sample, how it will end after etc.)
  • You can find The Comedy Unit's useful tips for Comedy Writing HERE

How to enter:

  • Only the following file formats will be accepted: PDF (preferred), .doc, or rtf. with the title of the work and your name in the script title.
  • Ensure that your name, email address and phone number are included on the document.  
  • Entrants must be registered for the Funny Women Awards in order to enter. If already registered under the performance category, you do not need to register a second time.
  • Please send entries to with 'Comedy Writing Award' in the title.
  • As part of Funny Women's dedication to new talent, only those who have not previously had a paid script commission are eligible to enter.
  • A shortlist of six scripts will be presented to industry judges. Three finalists will be invited to the Funny Women Final on Monday 24th September at the Leicester Square Theatre where the winner will be announced.
Visit HERE for some useful tips on how to write your submission.



(Forwarded by The Sitcom Trials, reply to the addresses above)

Write Your Way to New York with the Rocliffe Forum

A fantastic writing opportunity, courtesy of the BAFTA Rocliffe Forum:

Rocliffe and BAFTA are again inviting all comedians, sketch performers, comedy writers and producers to enter their comedy sit coms or sketches to our renowned comedy writing initiative and potentially win the chance to connect you and your script with producers, talent agents, studio executives and perhaps the grand prize a trip to New York (courtesy of British Airways) to have your work performed at an extra-special BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum at the New York Television Festival in October.  Scroll down for links to Application Form, Terms and Conditions and Paypal Links.

BAFTA ROCLIFFE NEW WRITING FORUM: ESTABLISHED MAY 2000 The BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum is a phenomenally successful event which has been running for over 12 years; it has had huge significance for lots of career starters in the film and TV industries. Renowned for empowering writers with exciting opportunities to bring their stories to audiences and industry leaders such as BAFTA winning and nominated directors and producers Mike Newell, David Yates, John Madden, Christine Langan, Elizabeth Karlsen, Matt Greenhalgh, Guy Hibbert and Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, multi-award winning writer Phil Rosenthal. 

If you have tried to get commissioned but simply not been able to open those doors well now's your chance! Submit your work to this special Comedy BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum and you could be writing your way all the way to the New York TV Festival.  As long as you haven't had a TV Series commissioned (although you may have broadcast writing credits) we are inviting you to submit a ten minute extract from your TV sit-com or sketch show for consideration for the scheme.

This opportunity has been created by BAFTA in partnership with Rocliffe, together with British Airways and the New York TV Festival, the first independent television festival.  The package for successful writers, who will be selected by a leading jury of industry professionals from the UK and US, will include: 

-    A special BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum showcase with professional actors performing their work at a central New York venue as part of the NYTVF;
-    Feedback during the event from a top TV industry guest giving writers vital tips and encouragement;
-    Before an audience of TV heavyweights including Comedy Central, FOX, FX, VH1, MTV and IFC amongst others;
-    A New York Television Festival Official Artist pass - access to all festival premieres, hospitality events, panels, screenings and special one-on-one meetings with US TV development executives as well as submission opportunities to NYTVF Pitch;
-    Membership of NYTVF Connect, the festival’s industry programme that distributes scripts to executives and networks in advance of the festival;
-    A networking  workshop and one-to-one mentoring sessions with producers and literary agents before arriving in New York;
-    British Airways World Traveller return flights and accommodation;

The Official Artist status at the festival, allows writers comprehensive access to all festival premieres, hospitality events, panels, screenings and special one-on-one meetings with US TV development executives. This year, the three winners will also be part of NYTVF Connect, the Festival's comprehensive industry track programme serving artists and top-tier entertainment executives across the creative development spectrum. As an artist of Connect the winners can have their scripts distributed to executives and networks in advance of arriving in New York. 

The 2011 script selection panel led by Andrew Newman included Charlie Hanson (Extras, The Office), Damon Beasley (The Inbetweeners), Kevin Cecil (Black Books, Gnomeo and Juliet) and representatives of BBC and Channel 4.  All writers will receive a submission report per submission.

In additional to the prizes this year we are also offering each of the winners one to one meetings with some of the top UK literary agents currently confirmed are Casarotto, Dench Arnold and United Agents (who signed 2011 winner Anne Marie Draycott) before you fly out giving you invaluable guidance and the chance to learn some key insights.

This year @BAFTA and @Rocliffeforum will be holding several online tweetups with #scriptchat to answer any questions you may have. 

As a direct result of being featured at our event - several writers have had work optioned and produced as well been signed by agents. Recent success stories include Sitcom Trials alumni Anne Marie Draycott & Charity Trimm's PREGNANT PAUSE (signed by United Agents & Pregnant Pause was optioned by script selection panellist from Bwark (The Inbetweeners)), James Dormer's work The Holding was optioned, produced and had a theatrical release, Claire Wilson was signed by an agent and has had Rocliffe featured work optioned. Josh Appignanesi and Jack Thorne showcased their early work.  
Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
  • The originality and strength of the idea;
  • The strength of voice and potential in the writer;
  • The suitability of the extract to the theatrical nature of the event;
  • Adaptability for a US market.
Entries will be judged through the following process:
  • Stage One: All scripts will be read by an experienced script reader and each writer will receive a script report. A shortlist will be drawn up to 25 entries. 
  • Stage Two: The 25 shortlisted entrants will be reviewed by an industry selection panel and select a short list of up to 12 entrants for interview. 
  • Stage Three: The short listed entrants will be interviewed between 11 and 13  Sep by a select panel.
In 2011, Phil Rosenthal creator of multi award winning Everybody Loves Raymond joined the forum as the industry chair, providing feedback and advice to the three winning writers Anne-Marie Draycott, Greg de Roeck and Thomas Phipps.  The writers have since gone on to forge contacts in the US, secure UK agents and have their work developed and optioned in the UK.

To have your script come to life as there is time to get your script in and participate at BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS carefully read our terms and conditions, fill in our application form.   

Please complete our Diversity Monitoring Form as part of your application [click here]. Please write ROCLIFFE NEW YORK in the POST APPLIED FOR field.  BAFTA and Rocliffe want to ensure that we are reaching as many people as possible so that a broad range of people can benefit from this initiative. We monitor diversity to help improve our marketing reach but diversity information is not considered as part of your submission.   The form is anonymous. If you prefer not to provide this information, please still complete the form but leave the fields blank.
SCRIPTS must arrive on the day of the deadline (early bird or final) to qualify or be post-marked the day before the deadline date or emailed as per the instructions in the Terms and Conditions.

(Forwarded by The Sitcom Trials)

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Scripts wanted for Manchester Sitcom Trials, deadline June 30th

Calling all comedy writers, actors and comedians - July 20th sees the latest Manchester Sitcom Trials, part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, and you are invited to enter.

As ever in The Sitcom Trials, we will be showcasing five mini sitcoms (live on stage at The Lass O'Gowrie in Manchester) and letting the audience vote for which one they like best. We are now putting out the call for fresh sitcom scripts. From you.

If you want the chance of having your sitcom showcased in this ever-popular comedy showcase, regularly attended by representatives of the TV and comedy biz, all you need to do is write 10 minutes of situation comedy. There's a Sitcom Trials format to write to (see below) but most importantly we want it funny and we'll try and do it justice.

Deadline for script entries is midnight Sat 30th June - a very short deadline we know, which is why we will be welcoming back scripts that you may have entered into previoius Trials (hoping you've learnt from their past experience in the voting and maybe rewritten them accordingly).

Then the deadline for voting (where readers and writers get to help choose the scripts) is midnight Saturday 14th July - everyone is invited to join in this process, to which we've given longer than before so the maximum number of people can participate.

If you want to enter a script, simply upload your scripts to the SitsVac files. First read The Brief below for guidelines.

If you have any questions about The Sitcom Trials you can ask at
The Sits Vac Forum
The British Comedy Guide Forum
or Facebook

The Sitcom Trials Manchester

Friday July 30 2012
The Lass O'Gowrie
36 Charles Street Manchester M1 7DB
8pm - 9.30pm £3

Manchester Sitcom Trials Oct 2011, video & results
Manchester Sitcom Trials July 2011, video & results


THE BRIEF for submission to The 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.


Your script must have a first 'half' of no more 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

Your script must have NO MORE THAN 4 CHARACTERS. Ideally 2 boys 2 girls. If you can write a script with just 2 or 3 characters, all the better.

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)

Think in terms of a radio script.


We are particularly interested to hear from writer-performers, especially those with an on-stage track record (eg Edinburgh) who would present their own sitcom as a self contained package. To demonstrate your live potential we would need to see a video, ideally a link to a YouTube video, which we can judge alongside the script. Please include the video link as part of the script.


Upload your entries to the appropriate folder in the files section of the egroup:

Deadline for script entries - see latest SitsVac egroup notice or
Deadline for reviewing and voting for scripts - see as above.


All members of the SitsVac egroup, 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. Send reviews including Yes/Maybe/No votes either to the Sits Vac message board. or to the British Comedy Guide Forum.

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.

Any questions, ask the egroup so we can all benefit from the answers.

Happy scribbling

Kev F Sutherland
Producer and Presenter

Sunday 10 June 2012

Bristol Sitcom Trials update

It may seem that things have gone quiet on the Bristol Sitcom Trials front, but that's only because we've been very busy indeed - we're now only a few weeks away from our next exciting show at the Wardrobe Theatre on Friday June 29th (tickets available now).

We've five terrific sitcoms in rehearsal, and I'm currently sourcing all sorts of interesting props - including a shotgun; an easily-snappable candle; and a thing I can't tell you about, but which is bound to be the bit everybody remembers after the show.  

These sitcoms have all been written (and re-written until our eyes started bleeding) by the Bristol team, with considerable input from our very talented cast. Over the past few months we've been meeting every Sunday at a pub to throw around all sorts of strange ideas ("It's set in the Himalayas, there's a Yeti loose amongst a bunch of randy nuns!"), and on Friday June 29th, you'll get to see the sitcoms that were voted through by the team (and you can judge for yourselves if rejecting the Yeti/randy nuns thing was a wise move).  We promise you a show that's guaranteed to cheer you up after England inevitably go crashing out of the Euros, the economy spirals deeper into recession, and yet another crushingly disappointing Ridley Scott film disappears from cinema screens.

Kind regards,

(Vince Stadon is the producer of the Bristol Sitcom Trials, June 29, The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol)
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