Themes familiar

Sitcom writers 'must find new topics'

The BBC has urged new sitcom writers to think of fresh themes after being swamped with ideas covering the same topics.

Producers say they regularly receive scripts for comedies covering history, space, the media, parallel universes and the afterlife.

And they also receive too many topical ideas that will be stale by the time the programme airs. is a current favourite among would-be writers.

The advice comes in a newly revised version of the corporation's writers' guidelines for TV and radio.

Other tips include

  • Have focus, but don't be too narrow
  • Surreal is not a substitute for funny
  • Make sure the humour is driven by the characters, not just people saying funny one-liners

The advice is available online at the BBC Writers' Room.

Published: 21 May 2002

Today's comedy-on demand picks


In this new(ish) podcast from Laura Shavin, formerly of Radio 4’s The Now Show, successful writers share pieces of work that never made it and the stories behind them.

The first few episodes feature Jon Holmes, Jenny Colgan, David Quantick stand-up Simon Evans and more.

Click for more suggestions
... including a documentary series based around the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow and a new comedy podcast about War And Peace.

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