BBC puts up £5k for transgender comedy

New writing award

A BBC talent search is offering comedy writers up to £5,000 for the best script that promotes a positive portrayal of transgender characters.

The Trans Comedy Award is seeking an original sitcom, comedy-drama or sketch show script that shows ‘transgender characters and the transgender experience in an affirming manner’.

The prize, being put up by the corporation, is designed to help the winner develop a taster or pilot episode for possible television broadcast

The award, launched by the BBC’s acting director-general Tim Davie, is being run by Trans Comedy, a group led by transgendered comedians Claire Parker and Shelley Bridgman and actor Milanka Brooks, through the the BBC Writers Room.

Parker told Chortle: ‘If you look at the representation of trans people across all media, the majority of stories have fallen into one of four buckets – sex worker, drug taking, mental health or murder.

‘To be fair, that doesn’t represent the average trans person getting on with their life with so much comedy in the everyday. And that’s what we’re encouraging people to write about, the everyday stuff.’

US comedies have featured transgender characters more prominently than their UK counterparts, albeit frequently as a chance to cast Hollywood stars in guest roles, as with Kathleen Turner in Friends, Rebecca Romjin in Ugly Betty and Chris O’Donnell in Two And A Half Men.

Lucy Montgomery played a transgender woman in series three of The IT Crowd, Sean Lock made cameos as a transgendered character in Ideal, while The Mighty Boosh’s grotesque, bisexual and ‘polyamorous’ character Old Gregg character has been held up as social commentary on transphobia.

Judging the award are Jon Plowman, executive producer of BBC comedy, Ian Critchley, the corporation’s head of creative resources and Kate Rowland, its creative director of writing, plus a further comedy writer/actor still to be announced.

Entry for submissions opens on January 14 with a deadline of February 28. The winner will be notified at the end of May.

More details can be found at the BBC Writers Room with further guidance available here.

- by Jay Richardson

Published: 30 Nov 2012

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