Creating Four New Comedy Monologues for the Biggest Weekend

BBC Writersroom Development Co-ordinator

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Over the last 12 months, we have been busy here in the BBC Writersroom building relationships with BBC live music festivals in order to generate opportunities for new writers to gain their first broadcast credits by writing a 60 second monologue short, produced as part of the festival outreach.

It began last November with BBC 1Xtra Live, continued in February with BBC Asian Network Live and in May this year, we had the exciting opportunity bring the project to The Biggest Weekend Fringe.

With The Biggest Weekend festival taking place across the four nations, we jumped into action in all four BBC Writersroom national hubs and put a call out to budding new comedy writers and performers to take part in the 60 second comedy monologue opportunity. Not only do we look for new writers as part of this scheme, we also look for new on screen talent in order to boost their showreels with a BBC acting credit. This time around, The Biggest Weekend festival also presented us with the opportunity to further extend our new talent reach and include a selection of the hottest new artists from the BBC Music Introducing line up to score the films.

New writers, new onscreen talent, new music artist! Our new talent radars were on fire and we could not have been more excited about it!

Longlisted writers were invited to workshop their scripts with our teams in Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham. Shortlisted writers were then invited back for a second day of script development and actor auditions with locally identified talent.

It was an intensive two days of workshopping for all involved and a great opportunity for our writers and performers to gain inside access to BBC Writersroom team. All of the scripts were incredibly strong by the end of the two days. It was tough to come to the final decisions, but we feel encouraged by the level of talent identified and prospects for the future...

*NEWS JUST IN*…so much so, two of the runner up scripts have just been commissioned by BBC The Social ahead of the TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow this July!

Without further ado, we’d like to present to you our four final writers and their 60 second comedy monologues, shot in the four festival cities over four days.

Watch 'Something Blue' written by Fiona Connor and starring Hannah Rudge. Music by BBC Introducing act MALKA. Filmed at Scone Palace in Perth, Scotland.

Fiona Connor, writer of 'Something Blue'

The idea of writing for screen always gave me the fear as my background is entirely in stage plays and fiction so I was just a bit apprehensive at first. But, I’m so glad I plucked up my pen and my courage as one thing the BBC Writersroom does is see the potential in you (no matter how misshapen at first), nurture you and most importantly challenge you as a writer.

It was such an intensive experience with two days of workshops to develop our first drafts to final script. We were brought together as a room of finalists: all likeminded writers from different backgrounds and all striving to produce a 60 second monologue. If I can write to 60 seconds – I can now do anything!

The support across the two days and the ability to bounce ideas off of each other was incredible as was hearing from industry professionals who were not only inspiring but gave us all lessons for life. For me, just being in the iconic PQ (Pacific Quay) building at the BBC gave me more drive. One of the most memorable moments was seeing our work brought to life by actors. The whole thing is like a dream I haven’t woken up from yet. It’s given me the confidence to move forward with developing new Scottish comedy & drama without the fear of the screen. Thanks to all at the BBC Writersroom & my fellow finalists. I hope everyone enjoys ‘Something Blue’.

Watch 'Porta-lols' written by Kirsty Roderick and starring Ellen Jane Thomas. Music by BBC Introducing act CHROMA. Filmed at Singleton Park, Swansea.

Kirsty Roderick, writer of 'Porta-lols'

I love a good festival, so I was thrilled to bits when it was announced that the Biggest Weekend was coming to Swansea.

They say you should ‘write what you know’ and I’ve done my fair share of wriggling out of playsuits in tiny porta-loos, so I thought others could probably relate! Although the tone is very light-hearted, I really wanted the piece to have a strong Welsh identity, emphasising that we’re a proud and passionate nation with music in our souls.

I’m massively grateful to the BBC Writersroom for this opportunity, to Ellen Jane Thomas who did a smashing job of bringing the character to life, and to the other shortlisted writers for a brilliant and inspiring couple of days at the workshops in Cardiff.

Diolch yn fawr iawn!

Watch 'Ghosted', written by Dominic Montague and starring Julie Lamberton. Music by BBC Introducing act ROE. Filmed at Titanic Slipways in Belfast.

Dominic Montague, writer of 'Ghosted'

It was such an incredible opportunity to work with the BBC Writersroom on the Biggest Weekend Monologues. I’ve always been a big fan of festivals and that feeling of freedom and possibility that can transport you away from everyday life into something bigger. I was thinking about what that would feel like translated to a city festival and was really inspired by ROE’s ‘Wasted, Patient. Thinking.’ I wanted to explore what would happen to the character in the monologue, Emma, when that festival feeling was interrupted by running into an ex, especially one who had ghosted her. The whole notion of ghosting is so interesting because it leaves more questions than it answers, it creates a vacuum.

it was such a pleasure to explore that idea and to create a journey for the character that saw her finally get closure, or at least try to. That journey wouldn’t have been possible without help of the BBC Writersroom team and the support of all the great writers and actors that I had the chance to meet and work with over the two development days.

Seeing the piece go from an idea on the page to a produced film was fantastic and I learned so much about the collaborative process that goes with that. Having to fit the story into a single minute of air time was a definite learning curve and the skills gained from that process will be invaluable for future work. Right through the process the BBC Writersroom team were incredibly supportive, it was such a positive environment to work in. I’m recommend it to anyone, it’s a brilliant experience!

Watch 'Hashtag # I'm Here' written by Emily-Jane Clark and starring Leonie Slater. Music by BBC Introducing acts Tom Shawcroft and Brand New Friend. Filmed at War Memorial Park in Coventry.

Emily-Jane Clark, writer of 'Hashtag I'm Here'

I got the idea for @CrazyKatie when I was on a train and overheard two girls talking about what they did at the weekend. One of them had been to this ‘amazeballs’ concert and her friend replied, almost accusingly, “Really? I didn’t see it on Insta or Facebook?” Like, did it really happen? (Turns out Concert Girl dropped her phone down the loo in the train station on the way to the concert while trying to take a selfie (WTF?).

My monologue is about society’s obsession with sharing every moment on social media and this ridiculous hunger with receiving validation (likes and comments) on how we look, our lives and even our food! It is almost like if it’s not on social media – did it even happen? (or in Katie’s case the other way around)!

I learnt so much from developing my monologue with the BBC Writersroom. The team were great and I got a valuable insight into editing, editing again, editing some more, working to a time constraints and writing viral online content. Plus as I'm a writer, I tend to work from home alone, so it was good to leave the house and speak to other writer-type humans.

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