Monday 20 June 2011, 11:44
Sending in a script to the BBC for a competition is always a challenge, especially if you miss the last post before the deadline and have to take the train from Birmingham all the way to Euston to drop it off at Grafton House. That's how my journey for the Laughing Stock competition started. It got easier after that.
Homegrown, my comedy about the lives of four young Muslims living in the UK made it to the final nine and I had the pleasure of attending the residential in Kent. Before the residential there was a Masterclass to attend at BBC Television Centre in White City (a lovely historic property comprising of amongst other features; studios, offices and a through lounge, see your local estate agent if you're interested). The Masterclass was a great opportunity to hear about the other scripts that had made it to this stage, twenty five or twenty six in total I think. Adil Ray and Rebecca Front had some great advice about what makes great comedy characters and what actors look for when they're reading a script. At the beginning of the Masterclass Mark Freeland (BBC Head of Comedy) gave us a little inspirational story about how the room we were in was being used by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant the week before and how Merchant had held onto his BBC ID Card from when he was doing a Producers course years ago so basically everything good in comedy begins at the BBC.
The residential itself was a full-on intensive about both writing and pitching. The table read of all the scripts was a great opportunity to get a real feel of the script as a living breathing organism. The highlight of the residential was Graham Linehan best known for Father Ted, IT Crowd (adored by Osama Bin Laden), Black Books and errr Radio 4. It was fascinating and instructive to hear him go through his method for putting a sitcom together especially the part about how some of the episodes of Father Ted were constructed. Meeting and talking to Executive Producers and people from Comedy Commissioning like Jack Cheshire, Davina Earl and Kristian Smith gave me a clear sense of direction for my script and their notes will hopefully prove to be invaluable in the process of getting Homegrown made.
Shazad was one of the winners of BBC writersroom's Laughing Stock comedy competition. Writers were asked to submit an original narrative comedy script with series potential.