Want to make a sitcom? Do it yourself

Producers raise cash to launch online

Producers of a new sitcom have raised £175,000 to launch their show online after becoming so frustrated with the TV commissioning process they decided to go it alone.

Meet The Adebanjos – based around a Nigerian family – has been filmed in a professional studio to a broadcast quality, after former City trader Andrew Osayemi raised the money from investors.

He said: ‘We initially approached broadcasters but it was the usual meetings after meetings without getting anywhere. It was almost as if they want to suck the life out of you so you eventually give up!

‘If you are not in the circle of the known, name writers or production companies it is hard for them to take you seriously. ‘So we developed our sustainable model for online programmes.’

His company, South London-based MTA Productions, filmed eight episodes over six weeks, persuading actors and production services to work at a reduced rate.

The business model is that the first three episodes will be released for free, then fans will be charged for DVDs or downloads of the rest of the series. If it proves successful, then the income will finance a second series to the proven fan base.

Osayemi, 26, said: ‘It’s like a music album, releasing a few singles for "free" on radio. Its high risk because you have to create content which fans like – but once they like it I believe they will back the movement and buy the DVD.

‘I managed to raise the investment using the contacts I made while working in the City for five years. It’s been a long slog but we are trying to prove that comedy producers can do a full broadcast sitcom independently of mainstream networks.’

His co-producer, Debra Odutuyo ,also 26, said: ‘For the past five years I have been working on this project and trying to sell the concept of the sitcom to mainstream broadcasters in the UK

‘After countless rejections, I resolved not to give up on my dream. We eventually raised enough money from private investors to produce a broadcast quality show.’

The producers say that there’s an untapped market as African families such as the Adebanjos are unrepresented on mainstream television. The last terrestrial sitcom based around a black family was Meet The Crouches in 2003.

The produces said: ‘We want to let the UK’s TV establishment know that the market for black British TV is strong, vibrant and hungry for content that speaks about a unique British experience. And if the old boys’ club won’t let us in, we’re going to do it for themselves.’

The series launches on Sunday on www.MeetTheAdebanjos.com. Here’s a trailer:

Published: 21 Jun 2011

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