Northern exposure

BBC launches regional comedy unit

The BBC has launched its drive to nurture the next generation of comedy talent from the north of England.

It?s hoped the campaign, called It's Grin Up North, will develop a several pilots that will ultimately produce programmes for TV and radio.

Writers including My Family's Fred Barron, Father Ted's Graham Linehan and Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisp?'s Susan Nickson launched the scheme at the Jongleurs Comedy Club in Manchester yesterday.

Barron said: "In the US, most regional TV writers end up in LA and go through the whole LA homogenization process that assures that everyone will eventually sound alike.

"In the UK writers seem to actually be encouraged to develop their own voices, so from Alan Bennett to Peter Kay, personal and regional worldviews are given a national forum."

At the launch, the BBC announced the creation of a £6,000 comedy writer's bursary, open to comedy writers in the north. One successful applicant will spend two days a week developing ideas over a six-month period.

BBC3 has committed funding to produce two TV pilots in the next 12 months through the scheme.

Royle Family producer Kenton Allen, who will oversee the unit, said: "With the announcement of the nursary and pilot schemes we are demonstrating a real commitment to nurturing new talent in the north of England.

"The road to comedy success doesn't have to begin in London and I can't wait to see who'll be making us laugh in 12 months time."

Published: 31 Oct 2003

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