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Could you be the next UK comedy megastar?

The semi-finals for the BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award are underway, an accolade that has helped launch the careers of some of the UK's best-loved comedians. Since our first award in 1995, many of the contestants have gone on to become household names. Could you be next?

We've been taking a look back at some of the famous faces from the BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award (formerly The BBC Radio New Comedy Award) in years gone by:

Joe Lycett on his BBC New Comedy Award experience

Joe Lycett chats about taking part in the BBC New Comedy Award 2011.

Romesh Ranganathan

Runner Up, London Heat 1 - 2011

Since entering the BBC Radio New Comedy Award, Romesh's career has gone from strength to strength, having been nominated for the Best Newcomer Award at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival, and then the Best Show Award the following year. He's also appeared on The Apprentice, has his own successful podcast, and introduced us all to his mum in BBC Three's Asian Provocateur.

Can Romesh get ready in 20 minutes?

Romesh tests whether it really is possible to get ready in 20 minutes.

Joe Lycett

Finalist - 2011

Birmingham-born Joe Lycett is one of the country's best young comedians.

Before reaching the final of the BBC Radio New Comedy Award he was the Chortle Student Comedian of the Year in 2009.

He's an artist, sculptor and author, has his own BBC Radio 4 series - Joe Lycett's Obsessions, and hosts The Great British Sewing Bee.

He's also got incredibly good form in name-based puns, with his last three shows being called Some Lycett Hot, That's The Way A-Ha A-Ha Joe Lycett and I'm About To Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett.

Joe's famous parking ticket letter on Channel 4's 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Peter Kay

Finalist - 1997

There's very little to say about Peter Kay that hasn't already been written.

He became a Guinness World Record holder in 2012, for the biggest-selling stand-up tour in history, and has recently starred in two popular BBC One Shows - Peter Kay's Car Share and Danny Baker's Cradle To Grave.

You're the Voice

John is enjoying singing along to Forever FM.

Sarah Millican

Runner-Up - 2005

Since appearing on the BBC New Comedy Award, Sarah has gone on to achieve a tremendous amount in a short space of time.

Having appeared on various top comedy TV shows, made her Royal Variety Performance debut and had the biggest-selling stand-up DVD by a female comedian of all time, she's also presented three series of her very own Sarah Millican Television Programme on BBC Two. Her first book, How To Be Champion, was released in 2017.

Sarah Millican On The Art Of Stand-Up Comedy

An interview with stand-up and writer Sarah Millican about being part of the NCA.

Marcus Brigstocke

Winner - 1996

Nobody says 'Radio 4 comedy' quite like Marcus Brigstocke.

Throughout his career, he's been an audience favourite on the likes of Just A Minute, The Now Show, Would I Lie To You and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Alan Carr

Winner - 2001

Alan is unquestionably one of the nations' favourite comics.

His National Television Award-winning talk show, Chatty Man recorded more than 100 episodes. He's also a regular presenter on BBC Radio 2, and earlier this year had his wedding officiated by global superstar Adele!

Alan with his BBC Radio 2 co-host Melanie Sykes.

Josie Long

Winner - 1999

Impressively, Josie won the BBC New Comedy Award at the age of only 17.

She'd begun her stand-up career three years earlier and, after taking a break to study English at Oxford, is now a veteran of several UK tours and Edinburgh Fringe shows. She's also the presenter of Short Cuts on BBC Radio 4.

Josie appears on the panel as Just A Minute broadcasts from the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014.

Rhod Gilbert

Winner - 2003

Rhod has been one of the industry's leading lights ever since he won the BBC New Comedy Award.

An accomplished performer on stage and screen, he's won a Welsh Bafta for his Work Experience series and hosts a Saturday morning show on BBC Radio Wales. Popular features include How would Bear Grylls Catch a Mouse? and Rhod's Loser of the Week.

Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience: Series 3 - Drag Artist

The stand-up comedian faces the daunting challenge of performing as a woman on stage.

Tez Ilyas

Finalist - 2011

After starting out on his comedy career in 2010, Tez is one of the most promising comedians on the circuit.

In the few years since he reached the final of the BBC Radio New Comedy Award, he's been a big hit as Eight in BBC3's Man Like Mobeen, after making appearances on The Now Show, E4's Virtually Famous and Radio 4's Tez Talks podcast.

Tez Ilyas

Tez Ilyas talks about sexy beards.

Shappi Khorsandi

Finalist - 2000

Shappi has appeared on any number of Radio 4 comedy favourites, including her own series, Shappi Talk.

In 2006, she made her name with the sold out Edinburgh show Asylum Speaker, telling the story of her family's flight from Iran to London and how she managed to bridge the cultural divide.

'Some Boyfriends Really Are Just For Christmas'

Shappi Khorsandi explains why sometimes boyfriends really are just for Christmas.

Chris Addison

Finalist - 1996

Chris is probably best known for his starring roles in BBC satire The Thick Of It and on BBC Two's Mock The Week.

He has an impressive list of radio credits to his name, including staples such as Just A Minute, whilst also adapting a number of his Edinburgh Fringe shows for Radio 4. He's also a successful writer and director.

Chris as Oliver Reeder in BBC Two's The Thick Of It

Lee Mack

Finalist - 1995

Lee is probably best known as star and writer of BBC sitcom Not Going Out, as well as a team captain on popular panel show Would I Lie to You?.

Starting out as an entertainer at a holiday resort, his BBC New Comedy Award appearance marked the beginning of an impressive career, which includes presenting various shows both on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.

Lee Mack On The Art Of Stand-Up

An interview with stand-up comedian Lee Mack.

Nina Conti

Winner - 2002

Ventriloquist Nina has appeared alongside her colourful array of characters on a wide variety of tv shows, as well as in comedy clubs across the globe.

Selling out shows as far afield as Australia and the USA, the latest addition to her stable of co-hosts is a wearable mask, as audience members at Live at the Apollo found out to much embarrassment.

Nina Conti and her non-human co-host

Nina Conti, host for this episode, introduces herself and her co-host for the evening.

David O'Doherty

Finalist - 1999

As well as being an award-winning comedian, David is an author, playwright, actor and musician.

The self-styled 'comedian, flanneur and 1990 East Leinster under 14 triple jump bronze medalist' scooped the 2008 if.comedy award and the prize for Best International Comedian at the 2014 Sydney Comedy Festival.

This page was last updated in July 2019.

David at a recording of David Mitchell's The Unbelievable Truth.