BBC seeks applicants for 2021 Felix Dexter Bursary | From aspiring writers from BAME backgrouds

BBC seeks applicants for 2021 Felix Dexter Bursary

From aspiring writers from BAME backgrouds

The BBC is seeking applicants for its annual Felix Dexter Bursary for black, Asian and minority ethnic writers.

Named in honour of the Real McCoy star who died in 2013, at the age of 53, the training scheme is now in its fourth year.

The aspiring comedy writer or duo chosen will get  four months of experience on a range of BBC comedies across radio, TV and online, including panel shows, shorts, sitcoms and comedy entertainment shows.

The scheme was set up in 2017, when it went to Leah Chillery and Jonny Wright. The  ext bursary was awarded to Nathan Roberts and Phoebe Roy, and stand-up Athena Kugblenu was last year’s recipient.

She said: ‘The bursary was the catalyst to my career as a writer and performer becoming full-time. Being endorsed by such a prestigious scheme massively improved my confidence as a writer.

‘However, it was the practical aspects  - the time to work on a pilot, the notes from BBC comedy commissioning editors and meetings with industry etc that helped develop my craft to the professional standard that has allowed me to work on shows post-bursary like The Lenny Henry Show, The Russell Howard Hour, Newsjack, The Now Show and Dead Ringers.

‘I think the bursary demystified the scripted comedy industry for me. There is space for a wider range stories and tones of voice in British comedy, we just need a foot in the door so our work can be seen by the right people. The bursary was a great way to get the door open for me.’

Sarah Asante, the BBC’s commissioning editor for comedy says: ‘Every cohort so far has exceeded expectation so the sky is the limit for what can happen in the coming year.

‘We have gathered so much industry support and buy-in; I feel like a proud aunt when industry movers and shakers let me know they’ve had a great meeting with or booked one of our bursary writers for a gig.’

Paul Whitehouse, a trustee of the Felix Dexter Foundation, says: ‘I’m really glad that this BBC bursary is launching again in Felix Dexter’s name. Felix was a force of nature.

‘His comedy was wholehearted, sublime and unpredictable. That such a brilliant figure should be remembered and honoured like this, by encouraging talent from the BAME community, is a fitting tribute to him.’

The bursary will be open to black, Asian and other ethnic minority writers or writing duos who are aged 18 or over. Applications can be made via the BBC Comedy Commissioning website by March 19.

Published: 2 Mar 2021

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