BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright today launched the BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Award 2012.
Steve was joined on his show - which now reaches a record 7.31m listeners a week - by Patrick Kielty who will host the semi-finals and final of the competition.
The competition will search for the best stand-up talent in the UK. With previous finalists including Alan Carr, Sarah Millican and Marcus Brigstocke the competition will be focused on finding the freshest talent while helping aspiring comics launch their careers.
In total there will be eight regional heats. Executive producer for BBC Radio Comedy Steve Canny and Steve Bennett, editor of comedy website Chortle will be the two head judges for the duration of the competition. At the end of the heats there will also be a chance for members of the public to vote online for their two favourites from eight runners up chosen by the judges, who will then go through to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals will then take place in Newcastle and London on 23rd and 30th October.
The search will culminate in a live hour-long final at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool hosted by Patrick Kielty on November 8th. As well as performances from the six finalists the event will include live music and stand-up from one of the esteemed previous winners of the award. A panel of judges will be present on the night but the Radio 2 audience will pick the winner by voting online and via SMS. Tickets will be available to purchase for all of the heats, semi-finals and the final.
The BBC New Comedy Award initially ran from 1995 to 2005. In 2011, Radio 2 and BBC Radio Comedy revived the award and put the spotlight back on seeking out the best new stand-up comedy talent, with a new format and, for the first time, including audience interactivity.
This year the BBC will be facilitating Learning Workshops in each of the eight cities (Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Brighton, London) that are hosting the heats working closely with local communities to engage those who are interested in comedy and performance. The workshops will give them the opportunity to learn and develop, have a go themselves and take away transferable skills.
Last year’s winner Angela Barnes said: "It is no way an exaggeration to say that winning the BBC New Comedy Award has changed my life. A year ago, stand-up comedy was my hobby. Now it's my job!
"In the year since I've won I have written on my favourite radio show - the News Quiz on Radio 4 - played Latitude Festival and Laughs in The Park, and I've met Terry Wogan AND Gary Barlow!
"If you had told me a year ago any of those things would have happened, I would have laughed in your face. If you're umming and aahing about entering, just do it. There is really nothing to lose and everything to gain."
The winner of the 2012 BBC New Comedy Award will receive £1,000 and the chance for a commission from BBC Radio Comedy. The winner will also have the opportunity to present to networks across the BBC and appear in other slots across the BBC as well as receiving development advice and guidance from the BBC Comedy Department.
So do you think you have what it takes to get the nation laughing? Entrants need to apply through the Radio 2 website and fill in the web form and upload or email an mp3 of their work. Anyone who has special requirements and is unable to apply through the website should call 03700 100 200.
The closing date for entries is the 30th June. More information and application forms are available at bbc.co.uk/radio2/comedy.
The heats will take place in the following locations:
Edinburgh on August 11th – BBC Potterrow
Leeds on August 21st – Highlight Leeds
Liverpool on August 28th – The Baby Blue Bar
Manchester on September 4th – The Comedy Store
Birmingham on September 11th – The Glee Club
Cardiff on September 18th – The Glee Club
Brighton on September 25th – Brighton Komedia
London on October 2nd – 100 Club
It is no way an exaggeration to say that winning the BBC New Comedy Award has changed my life. A year ago, stand-up comedy was my hobby. Now it's my job!"