Newcastle to host first BBC Comedy Festival in May

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Romesh Ranganathan is among the stars taking part in the first BBC Comedy Festival

Newcastle will host the first BBC Comedy Festival.

A series of events will take place across three days in May and comes after Newcastle was named as the corporation's first City of Comedy.

Names including Charlie Brooker, Greg Davies, Jamie Demetriou, Megan Ganz, Romesh Ranganathan, Stephen Merchant and Gbemisola Ikumelo will be supporting and attending sessions.

A selection of events will be opened to the public to attend with free tickets.

It is hoped to improve networking opportunities for new and emerging talent in north-east England and those established within the industry.

Image source, BBC/Netflix/Matt Holyoak
Image caption,
Charlie Brooker has been announced as part of the Comedy Festival

It comes after the BBC announced in 2021 it would spend at least £25m over the next five years across north-east England to fund network TV production, talent development and support for the creative sector.

Director General Tim Davie previously said the measures were aimed at making the region "a major centre for the creative industries".

The Comedy Festival will be made up of talent-led talks, panels, screenings, live comedy, and the premiere of the second series of BBC comedy show The Outlaws.

The cast of The Outlaws will also be joined by the stars of BBC hit Ghosts, plus Tim Renkow, Kat Sadler, Adjani Salmon, and Holly Walsh.

A full schedule will be announced in due course.

Image source, BBC/Rory Lindsay
Image caption,
Famalam star Gbemisola Ikumelo is also one of those taking part in the Comedy Festival

BBC director of comedy Jon Petrie will open the festival on 11 May, alongside BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore.

An industry-focused day consisting of a range of panels and talks will be held on 12 May.

People hoping to break into TV and comedy or advance their careers will be able to take part in sessions on 13 May.

"We are excited to be coming to Newcastle, the BBC's first City of Comedy, to celebrate comedy in all its forms and to outline BBC Comedy's vision for the genre in 2022 and beyond," Mr Petrie said.

"We are committed to nurturing, developing and collaborating with comedy enthusiasts across the UK, to ensure comedy remains a staple part of our British culture."

A new Regional Partnership Scheme will also be piloted by BBC Comedy, co-funded with Northern Film + Media, which pairs a North East-based emerging indie with a leading BBC Comedy supplier.

The aim is to promote regional partnerships, aid portrayal and support the growth of local scripted comedy suppliers in what has been described as an underserved and underrepresented region.

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