5,000 last words

Massive entry for BBC comedy contest

The BBC has been swamped with nearly 5,000 entries for its Last Laugh comedy scriptwriting competition.

Its Last Laugh contest invited budding gagsmiths to finish the last ten minutes of one of eight brand new sitcom scripts written some of the most established names in the business.

And it attracted a total of 4,816 entries, with ages going up to 80 - although the average was around 32. London was the source of most entries, with Essex second.

Project manager Esther Coleman-Hawkins called it "the biggest ever comedy script writing competition in the UK, even possibly the biggest script writing competition ever."

Last Laugh follows on from the BBC's End of Story last year, in which 17,000 aspiring writers completed short stories crafted by big name writers including Ian Rankin, Sue Townsend and Fay Weldon.

Finalists in the Last Laugh competition will be revealed in a BBC3 series in the autumn presented by Dara O'Briain. And they could see the script made into a comedy pilot.

Coleman-Hawkins added: "We always knew that The Last Laugh would be a hard proposition.

"Writing comedy is tough but the level of entries is fantastic and our initial readings suggest that there is some quality gagging in there."

Julian Friedmann, Editor of Scriptwriter Magazine, said: "While I do think this is an astounding number of entries, I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised because there are so few avenues for people wanting to break into comedy writing."

A reading panel is currently wading through what is effectively more than 800 hours worth of comedy writing, to whittle the entries down to four endings per sitcom.

These will then be assessed by a judging panel comprising Office producer Ash Atalla, Friends writer Adam Chase and Two Pints of Lager star Natalie Casey.

The writing teams, who have written the first 20 minutes, include: Carla Lane; Paul Mayhew-Archer, Desmond's creator Trix Worrell, Rab C NEsbitt's Ian Pattison, Marks & Gran, James Hendrie & Ian Brown, My Family's Jonathan Harvey and the Peep Show's Bain & Armstrong.


Published: 27 May 2005

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