Now that things have calmed down a bit, I thought I'd do a bit of a report back on progress so far with the sitcom competition.
In the end, we had just over 300 entries, which is obviously fewer than the number of applications to the last general college scheme, but very respectable given that this was a competition on a specific theme, with quite a tight deadline.
The standard of entries was exceptionally high, so coming up with an initial long list of thirty was hard. Agreeing on a manageable long list of fifteen was even harder and took a day of re-reading and debate.
However, the fifteen have now been chosen and written to, and I will be writing to the people who nearly made it, which I'm sure they will find as depressing to read as I will find the emails sad to write, but from which I hope they will find encouragement. I'll get those emails done as quickly as possible.
Themes and styles varied widely, but most of the entries were really interesting in the way that they dealt with characters we don't normally see and worlds we don't normally encounter. Only a handful were completely off the brief, and only with a very few did I feel that a character in an existing script had been tweaked for competition purposes and given a different voice.
There were some excellent jokes (a few unbroadcastable), some arresting characters and some very interesting scenarios, so the whole reading and assessment process was a pleasure, if rather intensive, not least because there were wildly varying tones, from broad to subtle.
The fifteen scripts are now being read by four people, who will be sending me their top sixes by the end of the week. I'll then tally up the votes, check that the six still want to be involved, and announce who they are and what their scripts are about.
Have I learned anything so far? Apart from the fact that we can't yet deal with the Celtx format and that PDFs are a good way to send scripts to people, I've learned that there is still the possibility of an original sitcom idea; that a lot of writers seem to have responded to an opportunity they didn't think existed; and that being a drag queen can be a sticky business.