We get 100s of scripts – and rejected them all

Peep Show chief's advice to writers

The executive producer of Peep Show has delivered a blow to would-be comedy writers by revealing that his company has NEVER made a sitcom from an unsolicited script, despite receiving hundreds of them every year.

Andrew O’Connor, who runs Objective Productions, said aspiring writers should work with performers, contribute to sketch shows and try to build relationships with producers to try to get their work on the screen – rather than blindly submitted finished scripts.

But he says there were advantages in trying to break into comedy as a writer rather than a stand-up, stating: ‘If you get turned down as a performer, you can’t change who you are. But if you get turned down as a writer, you can write something else.

‘And a link to a YouTube clip someone doing stand-up is hard for my producers to look and say “we can make that person into a star”. It is easer with sketches or character pieces that have been made for the web.’

Talking to the Comedy School’s Funny Festival in London yesterday, O’Connor said that although luck plays a ‘huge part’ in who makes it big, his producers are desperate to find the next successful comedy stars.

He said: ‘We have never taken an uncommissioned script and made it into a sitcom – and we get hundreds of them.

‘It’s very hard to write in isolation, locked away at home. Nobody can be right all the time. How do you know you’re funny? Writers and performers have to form a relationship with someone in “power”

‘But there’s a massive desire from broadcasters and independent producers to get the next great comedy show; a lot of competition to find the best writers and performers. If someone in this room is the next Victoria Wood, the next Ali G, the next Sam and Jesse [Peep Show writers Bain and Armstrong], then someone in my office definitely wants to meet you.’

Objective Productions also makes Reggie Perrin and The Kevin Bishop Show, and O’Connor, a former performer himself, said the company put huge emphasis on ensuring the scripts were right before any show was shot.

‘When Sam and Jesse wrote their first Peep Show script, nothing in it made it to the screen,’ he said. ‘Even now, where most sitcoms go through one or two drafts, Peep Show goes through 11.’

In a later session, Mock The Week and Outnumbered star Hugh Dennis advised aspiring writers to get experience outside of comedy, too.

He said: ‘I think it’s quite difficult to write anything if you haven’t had a proper job. You need to be able to relate to people’s experiences.’

Published: 30 Nov 2009

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.