Archives for November 2011

BBC Three and Us!

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Jaine Sykes Jaine Sykes | 16:45 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Today we've re-branded our web exclusive comedy as part of BBC Three. Misery Bear is the first to make the jump but pretty soon we’ll have many more web series appearing as part of BBC Three's Feed My Funny. The web series will still appear on this website too but as you’ll see from Zai Bennett’s post on the Three Blog what's happening on bbc.co.uk/comedy is part of a wider story about BBC Three, Comedy and the web. Enjoy the Teddynator!

Zai Bennett, Controller of BBC Three says...

Today we announced a raft of new comedy commissions for BBC Three and as well as a number of TV series, there's a major new investment to develop original comedy with six full pilots for a new online initiative, the Comedy Kitchen. And BBC Three now becomes the home for all online comedy for the BBC, which explains the new Feed My Funny section on our website and the addition of Misery Bear to our comedy family.

There will be loads more original comedy appearing online, just follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook and we will tell you all about it.

Jack Whitehall

 

The new TV comedies announced today include; Bad Education written by and starring Jack Whitehall, The Revolution Will be Televised a vehicle for Don't Panic's Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein and a new sitcom from Game On's Bernadette Davis called Some Girls. We've also recommissioned Him & Her for a third series, and there's a new multi-series deal now in place for Russell Howard's Good News.

And there's a brand new show starting in January that we are really excited about called Pramface. So excited infact, the second series has already been commissioned.

The cast of Pramface

New series Pramface starts in January.

When the Comedy Kitchen in iPlayer opens next year, we will have a series of single full length comedy pilots, for you. They include The Imran Yusef Show, a mixture of stand up and sketch from the fast and furious Imran Yusef, People Just Do Nothing a pirate radio mockumentary and Impratical Jokers, a new hidden camera format. Plus the world's foremost silent comedian The Boy With Tape On His Face will be building on his success from this year's Comedy@TheFringe with a solo project for us, we'll have a brand new sketch show from the Dawson Brothers and Alison Jackson's Breaking News will use incredible lookalikes to bring a variety of celebrities down to size.

Our commitment to comedy on all platforms is self evident. BBC Three is the channel that breaks new comedy in the UK. We are delighted that Bad Education, Some Girls and The Revolution Will Be Televised are joining our already exciting stable of TV comedy. And our additional investment online ensures that there is now a nursery slope for new writers and performers on the channel.

Mongrels live chat: Marion

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Jaine Sykes Jaine Sykes | 11:00 UK time, Monday, 28 November 2011

Fresh off the back of appearing on Scott Mills' Radio 1 Show this afternoon, Marion from Mongrels will be joining us for a live chat after the show at 11pm!

Marion

 

 

Marion will be here to answer your questions, so if there's anything you want to know from a homeless tomcat, then be sure to join us on tonight at 11pm.

Mongrels is on BBC Three every Monday at 10.30pm.

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Mrs. Brown's Boys recommissioned for a third series

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Jaine Sykes Jaine Sykes | 22:33 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

 

Mrs. Brown's Boys cast

 

Well this will we hope please most of you. Not only is Mrs Brown's Boys returning to BBC One this Christmas with a second series straight on its heels, a third series has already been commissioned before the second one has even gone out!

Originally a theatrical production, Mrs Brown's Boys is created, written by and stars Brendan O'Carroll as misbehaving matriarch Agnes Brown.

"What an extraordinary Christmas present," says Brendan, "The BBC must be mad! To allow us to dress up and play again is an extraordinary gift and we genuinely don't take it lightly. We're overwhelmed with the support of the audience and hopefully when they see what we've done with the second series they'll see that maybe the BBC is not totally mad."

When aired earlier this year, the series one viewing figures peaked at more than four million.

Danny Cohen the Controller of BBC One adds, "Mrs Brown's Boys is a joyful, laugh-out-loud comedy that I'm delighted to have on BBC One. It's great news for us that we are extending our deal to a third series."

Watch a classic clip where Mrs. Brown gets a bikini wax...

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Jason Cook on... Hebburn

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Michelle Brooks | 11:31 UK time, Monday, 21 November 2011

Hello folks!

Here's another report from the Salford Sitcom Showcase, an interview with awarding-winning Geordie comedian Jason Cook who penned the sitcom Hebburn

 
How did it feel to watch your life story recreated on stage by a professional cast in front of an audience of 300 people? 

It was insane watching people "do" my family.  And a bit heart-wrenching as I kind of got to bring my Gran and Dad back to life. Certainly one of the more unusual experiences I've had.  But I was well chuffed with the result.


Chris Ramsey said you originally wrote the Ramsey character for him but swapped so that he could play a younger version of you.  Did you ever want to shake him and say, ‘Oi, I don’t do that! Or do I?


The good thing about Chris playing me is that we're really close friends anyway so he just had to basically do an impression of me and he was brilliant. It's a bit unnerving because sometimes you have to ask yourself, 'Do I really do that?'  And unfortunately, the answer is yes...

The pilot begins with Jason bringing his Jewish wife Clare home to meet his family. Did you actually elope in real life or did you build that into the pilot in order to amp up the conflict?


Yes, we put in the "accidentally got drunk in Vegas and got married" thread to give the Jason and Clare characters more tension, and a big secret they had to keep from everyone else. I don't think my wife would have let us elope, and certainly not to Vegas, as she knows what I'm like at the roulette table!

Steffen Peddie told us he consumed 14 pickled onions and about ½ a pint of vinegar in rehearsals… and promptly threw up the night before the Showcase! Are you at all tempted to make this a regular occurrence so that he consumes a different pickled delicacy in each episode?


Because of Steffen's reaction to the onions I think I'll try and make him eat as many as possible if we get a series. Of course, what would be funny is if a pickled onion company were to sponsor him. We'll see how much he hates them then...

 

They say the secret to writing is in the rewriting and you went through about 16 drafts of the script, boosting the gags as you went along. How long was the development process – from the initial idea to seeing it performed at the Salford Sitcom Showcase?


All in all, it's been about 2 years since Matt Tiller at Channel K approached me about writing 'something'. I'd had good experiences in Edinburgh with my stand up which is largely based on my family experiences, so when it came to writing Hebburn, it just kind of fell out of me. But the last 2 months before the Showcase were the most intense of my career.  Lots of trains from Manchester to Newcastle and lots and lots of hours at the laptop.

How did you find writing a sitcom and collaborating with producers / fellow cast members compared to writing stand up?


It was an amazing experience doing the rewrites because I got to work with Henry Normal and Ted Dowd who between them have made some of my favourite comedy. At first it was quite daunting, sitting at the table with these giants of broadcasting, but I actually looked forward to the rewrites, as we'd find new jokes in the script as we went along.  For a comedian it was like jamming with the Rolling Stones!

 

Seinfeld famously created a 365 day wall calendar, forcing himself to write something every single day.  Do you have a writing routine? 

I write the sitcom stuff in whatever office space I can beg borrow or steal, but my Stand Up is usually written on stage. I'll go on with a few ideas and play with them to see how the material works. Although, since writing this pilot, my writing method has changed dramatically.  I'm much more disciplined.

And last but not least… after the long hours, tight deadlines and impromptu cast vomiting… would you do it all again?

In a heartbeat!  I haven't had that much fun for years. From the writing, through the castings, the rewrites, the rehearsals... It's been amazing.

 

Photos by Michelle Brooks

Mongrels live chat

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Jaine Sykes Jaine Sykes | 16:51 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

Nelson, Marion, Destiny, Kali and Vince returned last week with a double bill of Mongrels! Check it out on iPlayer if you missed it.

We've managed to coax Nelson and Marion out of their East London pub garden to join us for a live web chat after the show TONIGHT at 11pm. All they asked for was a copy of Ben Fogle's autobiography and a big bag of catnip - you can decide for yourself who asked for which item!

Nelson and Marion

 

They'll be here to answer your questions, so if there's anything you wanted to know from an urbane fox or a homeless tomcat, then be sure to join us on tonight at 11pm.

Mongrels is on BBC Three every Monday at 10.30pm.

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All comments are pre-moderated which may delay publication. It is not possible to publish all comments; only questions and/or comments of interest and relevance to the programme and its themes will be chosen. Do not include personal information in your comments (eg email addresses, telephone numbers); comments and questions will not be published if they contain personal information or if they contain material that may offend other users.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites linked from this page.

And if you want to find out more, go to our Terms and Conditions site.

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The Rev. Returns

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Michelle Brooks | 17:25 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tomorrow night the fabulous Tom Hollander (In The Loop), Olivia Colman (Twenty Twelve) and Steve Evets (Looking for Eric) return to BBC Two at 9pm in the new series of Rev.

So we cornered Steve, who plays the heavy-drinking, unemployable lost soul Colin, and offered him a packet of crisps in exchange for an interview. And he said yes!  But then, they were pretty posh crisps.

What do you think is the appeal of Rev?

I think the appeal of Rev. is mainly down to Tom and Olivia because of the way they've made this married couple so real. It’s lovely to see the human failings they both have without it turning into Terry and June (Er, the boss is coming round for dinner and my promotion depends on it. What’s that? Next door's dog has stolen the chicken? Oh no! You run out and try to buy one while I pretend you're cooking it in the kitchen...etc…etc)

We've come a long way in sitcomland - I think if the main characters are real then everyone around them echoes that and just falls into place. Plus it's a blessing that we don't have a laughter track (the lord moves in mysterious ways)!

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What made you want the part of Colin?

When my agent told me I had an audition for Rev., I didn’t have a clue what it was. They sent over a couple of scenes for me to look at and, as I recall, they were both bench scenes between Adam and Colin. I fell in love with both characters straight away and made it my business to learn the scenes word for word so I could put the character over without stumbling and reading from pages of script.

What I loved about Colin was his naivety, his bluntness, his violent undercurrent and the sense that he desperately wants to belong to something in his lonely little drink-sodden world. I did ok because they then asked me back for a recall and I got the job!


How would you describe Colin?

Colin is a lost sheep trying to make sense of a world that has dealt him a bad hand. He’s not the brightest person and doesn’t always think before he acts. But I think his heart is in the right place and he’s very malleable. He's always looking for the next step to enlightenment and I think God gives him a sense of belonging and makes him feel less lonely.

 

 

Were there any amusing off camera moments you can share?

When I came back for the audition recall I was wearing an old duffel coat that I had bought at a festival. I threw it on the floor and did the scenes again. Then Peter Cattaneo (the director) said, “Can you do it again with the coat on?”  So I did.  And I got the job.

When I went for a costume fitting the Wardrobe Ladies had bought three duffel coats and the conversation went like this:

Can you try this coat on?” I did.

Can you put your one on again?” I did.

Now try the second one on.” I did.

Yours again please.” I did.

Now try the third one on please.” I did.

Then they both stood there looking sheepishly at the floor and not speaking. So I said, “Would you like me to wear my own coat?”

And they replied, practically in unison. “Oh would you mind?” Those ladies were so polite.  Apart from keeping me warm at many a festival, I think that coat swung the job for me.


What’s your favourite line or scene in the last series?

My all time favourite scene in the first series is in Episode 6 when Adam has practically lost his faith and is stumbling around drunk with a kebab, trying to pick a fight with some kids. The policeman more or less arrest him and take him to give the last rights to a dying woman, who is holding on till her vicar gets there.

It's stunning how that scene shifts gear from a drunken vicar questioning his own faith and meaning in life, to a man who has to find it in himself to come through for those in need. Not only is it a testament to the writing but the way Tom Hollander shifts gear in such a realistic way. It’s practically a master class in acting and is so beautiful and tender. I wept.


What was the worst bit about filming series 2?

The worst bits were the days I wasn’t on set. I just loved being there and soaking it all up. When I had time off I didn’t know what to do with myself. So that just shows what a lack of imagination I have!

The second series of Rev. begins Thursday night on BBC Two at 9pm. 

 

Life's Too Short, Comedy And Controversy

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Ricky Gervais | 12:17 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Stephen Merchant, Warwick Davis, Ricky Gervais

Stephen Merchant, Warwick Davis and Ricky Gervais

Another "cruel" and "controversial" comedy from Ricky Gervais.

Yes, just a couple of the words some people are using to describe a show they haven't seen yet.

In the many interviews I have done over the past few weeks to promote Life's Too Short, the same few questions always seem to come up.

The first one is, not surprisingly, "What's it about?"

Life's Too Short is a fake documentary about a showbiz dwarf who has agreed to let the cameras into his life to turn his fortunes around.

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Warwick Davis plays a twisted version of himself. He has a massive tax bill, he is going through a messy divorce and the phone has stopped ringing with job offers.

It's not a sitcom about being short at all. It's a sitcom about a man with a small man complex. He is angry, arrogant, manipulative, selfish, and above all, fame hungry.

It was a thrill for me returning to the fake doc format because I find realism quite addictive. But if The Office reflected those quaint docu-soaps of the 1990s that followed ordinary people in ordinary jobs getting their 15 minutes in the limelight, Life's Too Short reflects the docs of today. Desperate, ruthless monsters living their lives like an open wound in search of another 15 minutes at any cost to dignity and decency.

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After I've answered this first question they've usually only digested the fact that it's "about dwarves." The second question is usually, "Are you worried that people will be offended?"

I don't know why anyone would ask that question? Is it because the central character is a dwarf? Or is it because they buy into this myth that I am a shock comedian?

Anyway, I'll answer the question.

I always expect some people to be offended. I know I ruffle feathers but some people's feathers need a little ruffling. And remember: just because someone is offended doesn't mean they're in the right. Some people are offended by multi-culturalism, homosexuality, abortion, atheism... what should we do? Ban all those things?

You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you. But no one has the right to never be offended.

I never actively try to offend though. That's churlish, pointless and frankly too easy. But I believe you should say what you mean. Be honest. No one should ever be offended by truth. As a comedian I think my job isn't just to make people laugh but also make them think.

Ricky Gervais

 

As a famous comedian I also want a strict door policy on my club. Not everyone will like what I say or find it funny. And I wouldn't have it any other way. There are enough comedians who try to please everyone as it is. Good luck to them, but that's not my game I'm afraid.

This is not a democracy. No art form is. I love the creative process and I love being a complete dictator when it comes to my work. It's my way or no way at all.

I'm quite Darwinian about it. I do my thing and I survive or I don't.

The next question is nearly always, "So where do you draw the line in your comedy?"

I'm not one of those people who think that comedy is your conscience taking a day off. My conscience never takes a day off and I can justify everything I do.

There's no line to be drawn in comedy in the sense that there are things you should never joke about. There's nothing that you should never joke about but it depends what that joke is.

Comedy comes from a good or a bad place. The subject of a joke isn't necessarily the target of the joke. You can make jokes about race without any race being the butt of the joke. Racism itself can be the butt for example. When dealing with a so-called taboo subject the angst and discomfort of the audience is what's under the microscope. Our own preconceptions and prejudices are often what are being challenged.

It comes back to honesty again. I don't like racist jokes. Not because they are offensive. I don't like them because they're not funny. And they're not funny because they're not true.

They are almost always based on a falsehood somewhere along the way, which ruins the gag for me. Comedy is an intellectual pursuit. Not a platform.

Usually when someone says I crossed the line, they mean the line they drew, not me.

Ricky Gervais wrote and directed Life's Too Short, alongside Stephen Merchant.

Life's Too Short begins on Thursday 10 November at 9.30pm on BBC Two.

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Mark Watson Addresses the Nation

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Michelle Brooks | 16:05 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Mark Watson as... Mark Watson

Last Wednesday Mark Watson returned to the airwaves with his new show for Radio 4 - the aptly titled Mark Watson's Live Address to the Nation, featuring the fabulous Tim Key (winner of the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Awards ) and Tom Basden (Armstrong & Miller).

So naturally we cornered Mark by the lifts and asked him to write a blog about it!  

Mark writes:
 

At last I’ve got five minutes to reflect on Wednesday night’s antics. When some people say ‘take five minutes to think’ they actually mean take a nice hour with a cup of tea. But unhappily thanks to my remarkable current schedule, it really is five minutes. Still, that’s just about long enough to conclude that it went reasonably well.

There were a couple of unforeseen setbacks, like the bit where a microphone made the world’s worst noise for a while; and a not-quite-foreseen moment when the public voted for the ending to the show which we had not predicted.

But that of course is precisely the fun of doing it live. As you’ll be able to verify if you were there, I squawked and flailed in my usual manner and kept yelping 'THIS IS LIVE!!!!!' as my brain continually registered that thought. I was slightly less madcap than in the pilot though, which I think went equally well overall.

Tim Key and Tom Basden... hard at work (ish)

Tim Key and Tom Basden... hard at work (ish)

The usual (but heartfelt) thanks go to everyone who made the trip to Broadcasting House. It would be a grim experience to do it live with anything less than a very enthusiastic audience. Plus those laughs fill the time. Although once again, it was a case of speeding up rather than trying to pad things out. (Actually, within the space of ten minutes we went from being worryingly behind schedule to worryingly ahead of it, but I’ll spare you the details because my heart is starting to accelerate all over again just remembering it.)

I guess if we had gone short I could always have filled the silence with, say, some jokes. That is what my job’s meant to be. But it doesn’t always feel like that when the nation’s Radio 4 listeners are poised by their radios and you hear those bleeps and it all begins. Still, it’s for precisely that sort of ‘aaargh!' moment that you take on a live show.

If you didn’t listen – I can only assume it's because you were kidnapped etc – you can still catch the first episode on iPlayer. I won’t give away any spoilers but WATCH OUT FOR THE GLADIATOR.

SPOILER ALERT!

Tune in for more Mark Watson's Live Address to the Nation on Wednesdays at 11pm on Radio 4.

A Night of Comedy for Children in Need

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Michelle Brooks | 12:38 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Roll up!  Roll up!  Roll up!


On Monday 14th November, the BBC Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House will host a spectacular night of comedy with all proceeds going to Children in Need.  A whole host of top comedy performers have offered up their services to the charity, so please come along to West London and join in the fun - all in the name of a great cause:

On the night you'll be treated to Alex Horne and the fantastic Horne Section as house band ("Fresh, original and blissfully funny" - Time Out), who will be playing lots of games with both the audience and the performers.

They will be joined by the incomparable Miles Jupp (as seen in Rev, The Thick of It and soon to be heard in his own Radio 4 sitcom, In And Out Of The Kitchen) and Josh Widdicombe (Stand Up For The Week, 8 Out Of 10 Cats).

Also tearing up Broadcasting House:

Doc Brown ("Mining a rich seam of hip-hop comedy" - The Guardian; Check out his BBC Comedy clips.

Jason Cook ("Wonderfully life-affirming, a total and utter joy" - Time Out)

Angela Barnes (Winner of Radio 2's New Comedy Award)

2 Episodes of Mash (as heard in their own show on Radio 2, whilst Joe Wilkinson can currently be seen in Him and Her)

Gareth Richards (co-host of Frank Skinner's radio show and Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee)

Joe Lycett (Star of BBC One's Epic Win)

Peter Serafinowicz (Star of BBC2's aptly named The Peter Serafinowicz Show)

Nick Helm (Best Joke Winner at this year's Edinburgh Fringe)

For more info and to buy tickets visit A Night of Spectacular Comedy.

100% of the ticket price will go to the BBC Children in Need Appeal

 (Registered charity England & Wales no. 802052 and Scotland no. SC039557)

Please note:  This event is now being held at BBC Broadcasting House and not the Shepherds Bush Empire.  Ticketweb will inform all those who have already bought tickets.

Jesting About 2: Funny Gets Serious

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Jon Aird | 13:17 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Are you a writer, performer or comedian? We're searching for the next generation of comedy talent for Jesting About 2: Funny Gets Serious  which is being held in Newcastle.

Jesting About is a partnership between BBC North, BBC Comedy and Northern Film & Media, with the aim of finding and developing the best comedy talent.

Last year, successful applicants undertook a programme of workshops led by the likes of Bob Mortimer and Ross Noble, before pitching ideas, scripts and sketches to BBC Commissioners.

Applicants performing at Jesting About 1

Applicants performing at Jesting About

Many have gone on to great things as a result, for example being commissioned for BBC Comedy Online, Mock the Week, The Now Show and Celebrity Juice.

This year, BBC Comedy are inviting pilot sitcoms for BBC One, there's an opportunity to create a pilot for a weekly live comedy and entertainment series for BBC Three, and BBC Newcastle and BBC Tees are keen to discover new talent for a specially commissioned half hour pilot show.

We want jesters from all walks of life and levels of expertise to submit their funniest ideas. Successful applicants will attend workshops and receive support from BBC Executive Producers and Commissioners to develop their ideas into pilots.

Entry forms should be sent to jestingabout@bbc.co.uk. The closing deadline is noon on Monday 28th November and successful applicants will be announced on Friday 9th December 2011.

For more information, terms & conditions and application forms here are some handy links...

And here's the radio show from last time:

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