BBC announces College of Comedy candidates
The BBC today announced the six candidates selected to take part in the BBC's College of Comedy training scheme launched earlier this year.
The scheme will train six writers on the job over a year by attaching them to sitcoms and sketch shows, giving each a mentor for original work, and running a series of masterclasses in all aspects of comedy writing.
The scheme has been a huge success, receiving just over 1,300 submissions, some from as far afield as the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
The six candidates selected – including one duo and one trio – are:
Leah Chillery, a playwright who currently has commissions with Nottingham Playhouse, the Eclipse Touring Theatre company and Birmingham Rep. With BBC Comedy, Leah is developing a sitcom for BBC Three called Ebony's Yard.
Rob and Neil Gibbons are twins. They have projects in development with Baby Cow, Hat Trick and ITV Productions. They began as sketch writers, and have been developing narrative ideas since 2004. They are currently writing for Steve Coogan's stage show.
Catherine Shepherd is an actress who has appeared in many TV and radio comedies. She wrote and performed on the Peter Serafinowicz Show and Dog Face, contributed to two series of Concrete Cow on BBC Radio 4 and has had an Afternoon Play broadcast.
Trippplicate are three women who have been working as a team since 2002 and have won glowing reviews for their Edinburgh shows:
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm has strong affiliations with the Old Vic which includes writing a play performed by Kevin Spacey and Thandie Newton;
Verity Rose Woolnough directs live comedy and is a freelance writer working in advertising and PR;
And Katie Lyons is an actress who was a regular in Green Wing and co-starred in the award-winning Boy A.
As Trippplicate, they are developing a new BBC Three project.
Andrew Viner has worked with Aardman and has written extensively for children's television, notably on Bear Behaving Badly for CBBC, and Skatoony for the Cartoon Network.
John Warburton is a former journalist-turned-stand-up comedian and comedy writer. He is lead writer on a new sketch project being developed by Baby Cow in Manchester, has contributed to the Comedy North show Scallywagga and is developing a sitcom pilot with Comedy North.
The scheme is run by Micheál Jacob, formerly the BBC's Creative Head of Mainstream Comedy, and executive producer of My Family, 2 Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and The Smoking Room.
He combines running the college with developing and executive producing programmes.
Micheál Jacob said: "The quality of entries was very high, and we're delighted with the writers who made it through the selection process.
"I hope the college can help them become regulars in the first team of comedy."
Notes to Editors
Among those endorsing the scheme are Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, Bill Dare, Jeremy Dyson, Andy Hamilton, Armando Iannucci, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, Paul Mayhew-Archer, David Mitchell and Robert Webb, Susan Nickson, Simon Nye, Ian Brown, James Hendrie, Ian Pattison, Stephen Merchant, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Kwame Kwei-Armah.
The scheme, which has financial support from BBC Worldwide, is designed for people who have already begun their careers and can demonstrate some achievement, such as broadcast material, a script commission or performance of their work.
Applicants were invited to submit the first 10 pages of a half-hour script, or six sketches, by the closing date of 14 April.
The chosen candidates are matched with productions, and guaranteed a script commission.
They will also be given a mentor for original work, which will be showcased when the scheme ends in March 2009.
There will be two residential workshops during the year, with sessions from leading writers, producers and directors.