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What BBC Three wants

Comedy ambitions revealed as it hunts new writers

BBC Three has revealed the sort of comedy shows it wants to make in a briefing document sent out to producers.

The channel launched a scheme called Funny On Three, which aimed to encourage established writers into creating sitcoms, and sent a memo to companies who might pitch ideas, explaining what it was looking for.

Although filled with the usual TV broadcasting buzzwords such as 'distinctive', 'bold', 'inventive', 'fresh', 'relatable' and 'warm', the brief outlines what BBC Three controller Zai Bennett is seeking.

Priorities are a studio-based sitcom to appeal to the channel's young audience and a more realistic, single-camera show to follow in the footsteps of previous hit Gavin And Stacey

The memo said: 'Our top priority is to find a studio show with well-defined, original, likeable, youthful characters like Two Pints of Lager, IT Crowd or Big Bang Theory.'

And that meant writing that should be 'innovative, laugh-out-loud and edgy without being patronising of our audience. That’s likely to mean post-watershed ideas that resonate with the audience’s lives and experience.'

The brief also said that executives were seeking ideas that went beyond London, 'with a modern, diverse feel to the fore'.

However, the document also said that BBC Three is ‘never afraid to try new stuff’, so the Funny On Three initiative welcomed innovative shows that could replicate the cult success of the likes of The Mighty Boosh, The Young Ones and Bottom. 'We welcome scripts full of innovation and cultish comedy characters and recognise that this brief may be of particular interest to writer performers,' it said.

Nonetheless, the Funny On Three initiative, run by BBC creative head of comedy, Simon London and backed by Bennett and comedy commissioning controller Cheryl Taylor, cited three potential scenarios it was 'particularly interested' in. They are:

1. A young woman comes of age only to discover the father 'that walked out' when she was younger is, in fact, a sperm donor. She sets out to discover her half siblings.

2. Two brothers who are chalk and cheese inherit the family firm. They are delighted they can now flex their entrepreneurial muscles. However, their contrasting personalities and lifestyles are not conducive to happiness and the workplace soon becomes a war zone.

3. A fashion-conscious teen and her gay brother are forced to move to a rural community and are horrified by what faces them.

The deadline for Funny On Three passed two weeks ago, with ten writers the corporation hopes to work with being selected next week. The BBC said: 'There is no guarantee that the scripts that come through this process will be commissioned. However, we hope that long-term relationships will be forged and opportunities to win commissions will be established.'

Posted: 18 Jun 2012

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