BBC launches New Comedy Award 2021 | With new categories for under-18s and digital comedian

BBC launches New Comedy Award 2021

With new categories for under-18s and digital comedian

Entries have opened for the revived BBC New Comedy Awards, which will culminate in a final on BBC One.

As the nationwide talent search returns to TV after a decade on Radio 4  the emphasis has widened to include categories for best under-18 comic and best digital comedian, as well as the usual category for best new adult  stand-up.

Mawaan Rizwan, pictured, will be head judge – and has also been appointed the BBC's Young Person’s Comedy Laureate to spearhead the Young Comic category and  to ‘inspire new talent to start writing and performing’ 

Shane Allen, the BBC’s outgoing director of comedy, said ‘The wealth of comedy talent in these shores is one of our greatest assets and exports but everyone needs their break. Covid-19 took the wind out of comedy’s sails for a while and we want to spearhead the commitment to bringing the laughter back.

‘In varying our approach, we hope to engage and inspire the next generation of comedy talents on and off screen through opening the doors ever wider to different voices from all over the UK.’

The BBC New Comedy Awards – established in 1995 – will this year comprise six regional heats airing on BBC Three, BBC One and BBC iPlayer culminating in the final on BBC One later this year.   

Rizwan will be  joined at each location by a different panel of local celebrity judges. He said: ‘I’m so flattered and honoured to be the first Comedy Laureate. I never thought I'd be associated with the word "laureate" - my parents are actually impressed for once.

‘The bit I'm most excited about is finding the next generation of comedy talent who wouldn't otherwise get a shot at this. There are still so many under-represented voices and I can't wait to hear from them!’

Allen added: ‘The Young Person's Comedy Laureate position signals our passionate belief that comedy stands up there as one of the key pillars of our cultural identity and in Mawaan we have the perfect ambassador. He is a fast-rising star who  pioneered his way across many platforms, starting from very humble beginnings to get to where he is today.’

Lindsay Jex, who is producing the New Comedy Awards  for Phil McIntyre Television, added: ‘These awards are the ultimate foot in the door for aspiring comics and that’s why it’s so exciting that the search has expanded to include under-18s and digital comedians.’

The main prize for the over-18s category is £1,000 and a paid commission to write and perform in a 30-minute audio pilot, mentored by a BBC comedy commissioner.

The Young Comic winner gets £500 and help securing their first three paid gigs, while the digital prize is a paid commission for a comedy short.

Comedians who took part in the awards early in their career include Peter Kay, Joe Lycett, Lee Mack, Julian Barratt, Josie Long, Shappi Khorsandi, Romesh Ranganathan, Alan Carr, Russell Howard, Nina Conti, Lost Voice Guy, Tom Allen, Lauren Pattison and Sarah Millican

Applications are accepted via the BBC website until  August 15.  

Published: 19 Jul 2021

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