New writers lose vital show
Roy Hudd has cancelled the next series of his long-running radio show The News Huddlines after landing a role in Coronation Street.
And the move has sparked concern among writers, who fear a traditional route for up-and-coming talent may be lost.
The topical Radio 2 show is the only BBC programme that invites anyone to contribute a gag - making it an ideal vehicle for new writers.
So if Hudd's Coronation Street role as Archie Shuttleworth - a romantic interest for battleaxe Blanche Hunt - becomes established, the corporation will have no need for non-commissioned writers.
The Writers' Guild of Great Britain is now lobbying for another show to be introduced for rookie writers, after one of its members read about Hudd's new role on Chortle.
General Secretary Bernie Corbett has written to Radio 2 controller Jim Moir and Radio 4 chief Helen Bowden expressing the guild's fears.
He told Chortle: "Huddlines is the last remaining BBC radio show that takes a significant number of gags and sketches contributed on an item-by-item basis by non-commissioned writers.
"Many of today's leading comedy writers started off by sending in just such short items. So we in the Writers Guild think it is now urgent for BBC radio to commission one or more new vehicles to carry on this tradition."
Writers who started their careers by submitting non-commissioned work to the Huddlines include One Foot In The Grave creator David Renwick and Drop The Dead Donkey's Andy Hamilton.
Corbett added: "This isn't the BBC's fault, and there is no criticism of them, but they need to take swift, effective action."
The new series of Huddlines, which uses an average of 35 writers for each programme, had been due to start in March.
It has been going for 26 years, and Hudd has only ever missed one episode, when he was stranded in heavy fog in France. Comedian and ventriloquist Ray Alan stood in.
Radio 4's Week Ending, the BBC's other major launching pad for non-commissioned writers, was axed in 1998.
Posted: 21 Jan 2002