Friday 28 December 2012

9.5million watch Miranda

9.5million watch Miranda

Sitcom is THE Christmas hit

9.5million watch Miranda
Miranda attracted 9.5million viewers yesterday – more than the Christmas Day episode of EastEnders.
An impressive 37.8 per cent of all viewers at 9pm were tuned to the BBC One sitcom, making it the biggest ratings hit of the festive season.
And the episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys that immediately followed was also a hit – with nine million viewers (36.9 per cent).
That’s slightly more than the 8.8 million who saw the Christmas Eve antics of Brendan O’Carroll’s Irish mammy.
It has been a good Christmas for comedy, according to the official overnight Barb figures compiled by Attentional.
Outnumbered's Christmas Eve special averaged 7.84million, but peaking at an impressive 9.1million. And on Christmas Day, the Royle Family scored a very strong 7.68million.

via Chortle

All of which seems an opportune time to recall the debut of her novelty shop-based sitcom, in The Sitcom Trials back in 2001:

According to Wikipedia, Miranda Hart's eponymous sitcom, now on BBC 2, first appeared as part of The Sitcom Trials at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001. It featured Miranda, working in a joke shop that sells penis pasta, with a diminutive blonde sidekick, originally played by Charity Trimm, and the love interest in the cafe, played then by Gerard Foster. The camp character played in 01 by Dan Clegg went on to be played in the TV series by James Holmes who, coincidentally, was the star of the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Sitcom Trials.

If you would like to create the next great British situation comedy, The Sitcom Trials is an opportunity for your sitcom to be seen live. Keep watching here, on Twitter or Facebook for the latest news.

Monday 17 December 2012

New call for Sitcom Trials entries - deadline Jan 26th

Vince Stadon, Bristol Sitcom Trials producer, writes:
Hello! Well, after a bumper 2012 for the Sitcom Trials, it's time to usher in a new year with a new competition for the next show.

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 marvelous that the TV & radio industry representatives in the audience will snap them up immediately.


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 5 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)

Think in terms of a radio script.


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:

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

Deadline for entries - midnight January 26th, 2013
Deadline for voting - midnight Friday 1at February, 2013


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 (, or to the Sitcom Trials thread at 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.


The top ten entries (as voted by you) will be read by the team, from which we'll select AT LEAST TWO SCRIPTS to be performed on Friday February 22, 2013, at the Wardrobe Theatre, St Michael's Hill, Bristol. The other scripts will come from writing sessions by the Bristol team of writers and performers.

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.

Any questions?

Happy scribbling

Vince Stadon

Saturday 15 December 2012

Sitcom Trials Christmas drinks & review of the year

Merry Christmas from The Sitcom Trials. Last night the Bristol team got together for Christmas drinks (above). I had to leave early, they're probably still going. A fine celebration ending an excellent year for the Trials.

A year which, you could say, has been won by Bristol, who produced three shows to London & Manchester's two apiece, as well as holding more meetings than any group has held for years. They've been actively developing new material in-house, which was one of the original points of the Trials, and have ambitious plans for next year. They've also delivered the biggest audiences of the three teams, filling the Wardrobe Theatre (which is twice the size of London's Camden Head & Manchester's Lass O'Gowrie) every single time.

All three teams have put on their best shows yet in 2012, with Manchester continuing a revival which, we mustn't forget, they kick-started with their summer 2010 show. London staged their first show since 2009 with the Eurovision Sitcom Trials, and raised the quality bar with the Sci Fi Trials, breaking all previous records for use of sound effects.

As I may have hinted at occasionally, there are discussions going on that might see a very special project happening with The Sitcom Trials, about which we'll all find out soon. In the meantime all three teams are ready and raring for more, with the first show date being Feb 22nd in Bristol. Here are the links for a look back at the 2012 Sitcom Trials:

Nov 2012 - Sci-Fi Special, London
Oct 2012 - Halloween Special, Bristol
Oct 2012 - Halloween Special, Manchester
July 2012 - Sitcom Trials Manchester
June 2012 - Sitcom Trials Bristol
May 2012 - Eurovision Sitcom Contest, London
March 2012 - Sitcom Trials Bristol 

Sunday 2 December 2012

World Cup of Sitcom, done it.

The marvellous Richard Osman, of Pointless fame (which, anecdotally, seems to be everyone's favourite quiz show), has been running a game on Twiter called World Cup Of Sitcoms. He preceded this with a World Cup of Chocolate, and no doubt has more such ideas to come. It's jolly good fun and I urge everyone to join in. Just don't forget one important thing - I've been doing it for years.

The head-to-head elimination game that Richard calls World Cup Of... is a game show format that I first piloted back in 1998 as The Best. Somewhere I have a VHS recording of a stage version we made in Bristol, with panelists including Justin Lee Collins and Danny Robins, since which time a simplified flipchart version of the game has been the warm-up routine for The Sitcom Trials. Above we see me preparing the grid for a game of The Best ahead of the Eurovision Sitcom Contest back in May.

Having long since got past the "Best Sitcom" version of the game, we've played innumerable variations over the year, from Best Sitcom Sidekick (usually Baldrick), Best Sitcom Pet (won in the past by Santa's Little Helper), Best Sitcom Location (Torquay has played Tooting in the final), Best Sitcom Catchphrase (How You Doin'? vs I Don't Believe It) and my personal favourite Best Sitcom Vehicle (won at least twice by Compo, Clegg & Foggy in a bathtub).

My attempts to pitch The Best as a TV gameshow didn't get very far, the problem being that once a panellist has extolled the virtue of an item in their first head-to-head round, they end up having to repeat themselves when said items comes up again in the semi final and again in the final. The flipchart version, pitting just 9 audience suggestions in contest, with me drawing an improvised cartoon version of each suggestion, lasts about 5 minutes (up to 10 if it's going particularly well) and is an ideal warm-up for a show which is all about sitcoms. I've even performed The Best as the warm up for a studio recording in the BBC Radio Theatre (Hey Hey We're The Monks starring Bill Bailey & Simon Bates, now you ask).

So, there's another footnote in comedy history to add to the list. On with your business.

Kev F Sutherland
The Sitcom Trials
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