The BBC is planning to launch a ‘comedy college’ to develop new sitcom and sketch writing talent.
Every year the corporation will recruit six new writers and pair them with mentors such as Armando Iannucci on existing shows,
Micheal Jacob, the BBC’s creative head of mainstream comedy, will oversee the project. He will begin recruiting next month and expects the course to begin in May.
He said: ‘We hope to find people who are going to make our team-written shows better, and also writers with original voices who can develop their own shows. We also hope that people will like the BBC enough to bring us their work in the future.’
A similar scheme already exists for drama writers, who train on shows such as Casualty and EastEnders.
Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet of Crisps creator Susan Nickson is another of the writers who will mentor the ‘college’ students.
She has just signed an exclusive three-year deal with the BBC to develop new sitcoms. Head of comedy Mark Freeland said: ‘Her remit is to lead the way in studio sitcoms, but if she comes up with a comic drama, no one's going to complain. I hope we can do more deals like this with writers.’
BBC Radio has had a similar scheme since 1978, with alumini including Rory McGrath, Jimmy Mulville, Rob Grant, Doug Naylor, Peter Baynham, Stewart Lee, Richard Herring and Debbie "DA" Barham. Two new writers - stand-ups James Sherwood and Stephen Carlin - start the scheme on Monday.