BBC Director of Comedy Jon Petrie has named the 10 recipients of a supercharged bursary scheme – the BBC Comedy Collective – for up-and-coming writers, producers and directors to develop their careers further in scripted comedy.
Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival, in Cardiff, Petrie said: “Some of the best writers, producers and directors in TV and film started their careers on BBC Comedy shows and we’re committed to giving the next generation of talent their big breaks. The BBC Comedy Collective supports on and off screen talent from across the UK and will provide brilliant opportunities to our first cohort. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
Each bursary winner will receive up to £10k worth of paid shadowing on a BBC Comedy production, along with an allocated production mentor, plus a £5k development grant to put towards new material at the end of their placement. They will also have a dedicated point of contact within the BBC Comedy Commissioning team to help guide them through their year, as well as access to the Comedy Collective representatives.
The BBC Comedy Collective comprises of estate representatives, Geoff Schuman and Paul Whitehouse (for Felix Dexter), Tessa Le Bars and the Galton Family (for Galton & Simpson), Lucy Ansbro (for Caroline Aherne) plus the new producer and director representatives, Ash Atalla and Christine Gernon, alongside the alumni of previous BBC bursary winners.
The Collective will work in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, BBC Scotland and BBC Wales, with the support of BBC Writersroom, BBC History, BBC Academy, BAFTA and a range of screen agencies including North East Screen and Creative Wales.
The 2023 cohort are:
Atlanta Green is a Black British screenwriter of Jamaican ancestry from South London who was part of the 20/21 BBC Comedy Writers Room cohort. She has a particular interest in diverse stories and finding the humour (no matter how dark it is) and the silver lining in the mundane realities around us. Her writing is inspired by her experiences of working in sexual health, growing up in London and juggling her passion for comedy writing with motherhood.
Previous original commissions include Is This Camera On? an original comedy monologue for CBBC & BBC iPlayer and Oi Pussy an original comedy three-part show for BBC Three. Atlanta also currently has an original comedy pilot in development with DLT Entertainment. For children’s TV Atlanta has written for JoJo & Gran Gran, Supertato and Nova Jones.
Ben is from Newcastle. A troubled childhood meant he left school aged 14 without any qualifications. Since then he has graduated from the London Film School and is a multi-award-winning writer, whose short-form work has been long-listed twice for the BAFTA awards and screened at over 400 festivals worldwide. In 2019 he was selected as a Screen International Star of Tomorrow, and is currently in development on his first feature, Marwell, a touching, time-travel comedy-drama, without any time travel. Marwell was selected for Biennale College–Cinema, EIFF Talent Lab Connects, and is in development with the BFI Film Fund. Ben is also developing a number of projects for TV. He proudly identifies as neurodivergent and disabled.
Chloe is an up and coming producer from the West Midlands. The first in her family to go to university, she graduated from the prestigious Bournemouth Film School in 2017. She started producing shorts when an autoimmune disease diagnosis derailed her postgraduate plans. During the 2020 pandemic, she produced a series of online comedies to raise money for the NHS, starring actors including Mathew Horne and Iwan Rheon. Collaborating with writers and directors throughout this process led to the production of Save Luna, a £250k budget interactive film. Chloe worked as a production manager on Alice Lowe’s forthcoming film Timestalker. She currently has several shorts, a series and a feature film in development. Chloe feels strongly about growing regional representation and is keen to bring Midlands-based stories to the screen and showcase Midlands talent.
Eleri is a Welsh, female comedian and writer. She has worked across multiple comedy shows for Radio and TV in both the Welsh and English. Her credits include; The News Quiz, The Now Show on Radio 4, Welcome Strangers and The Leak on BBC Radio Wales and Have I Got News For You. She was also a series regular in the improvised sitcom Tourist Trap on BBC One Wales. She was a semi-finalist of both Funny Women and BBC New Comedian of the Year 2021 and 2022.
She has written two plays (one was performed at the Ivy House in London as part of their Christmas programming and the other was produced and performed by Paines Plow at the Edinburgh Fringe) and three different half-hour sitcom pilots, one was a semi-finalist for the Sitcom Mission and was optioned for Sky Comedy and the other two have been picked up by production companies and are currently being pitched to different channels. She is working on a comedy sketch pilot for S4C alongside comedians Priya Hall and Leila Navabi.
Laith is a British-Iraqi screenwriter, director, producer and arts facilitator based in London. He is also the founder of the British-Arab Writers Group. His script An Impossible Homecoming, a Sci-Fi drama inspired by his experiences of being the child of Iraqi refugees, won a special commendation at the Edinburgh TV Festival All3Media New Drama Script Awards. He also has a sitcom in development with Three Little Birds Pictures called The Weekly Wembley – a nostalgic love letter to multicultural inner-city London school life. He is the co-producer of Hakaya: A British-Arab Variety Show at Soho Theatre. He has recently written and directed a short film called Panic! which explores ideas of mental health in relation to children of refugees.
Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney
Michael (actor/writer) and Oisín Kearney (writer/director) are an award-winning creative partnership based in Belfast, who make work that sits on the knife-edge between comedy and drama. The pair were a part of BBC Writersroom Belfast Voices 2018, through which they pitched television ideas. This led to them writing story ideas for the BBC Northern Ireland comedy Soft Border Patrol and creating My Left Nut, a three-part comedy drama series for Rollem Productions/BBC Three based on Michael’s teenage years growing up with a massive testicle. (Winner: RTS NI Best Drama; RTS Yorkshire Best Drama and Best Writers).Their credits for theatre include the stage play of My Left Nut (Winner: Summerhall Lustrum Award,2018) ,The Alternative – an alternate history political satire (Nominated: Irish Times Theatre Awards, Best New Play) and The Border Game -their response to 100 years of partition in Ireland. Michael and Oisín were awarded an Abbey Theatre Commemoration Bursary in 2021 and the 2022/23 Traverse Theatre &IASH Fellowship to develop a new comedic play about Scottish and Irish Nationalism. On radio, they created the six-part comedy series This One Time on the Border (BBC Radio Ulster), wrote the radio play The 100-Year Old Backstop (BBC Radio 4), contributed to the sketch show Quick Comedies (BBC Radio Ulster) and will have a five-part sci-fi series named Bitter Pillpremiering on BBC Radio Four in Summer 2023. They are currently developing several ideas for television in the comedy-drama space.
Miranda is a comedy writer-director from London. Her debut short film as writer-director, Binned Off, is being screened at cult film nights across the UK and she is currently in pre and post production on two short films to be released later this year. Miranda has written live-action and animated comedy scripts – her work ranges from the dark to the ridiculous with a focus on dysfunctional relationships. Her eye for physical comedy was developed during her time studying at Gaulier in France, and her ear for snappy dialogue by her improv training with the Free Association.
She co-wrote the critic’s choice BBC Radio 4 sitcom The Dream Factory with Joz Norris, and was a co-writer/director on the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe show Blink, one of the Evening Standard’s top comedy shows of the year. She was also director’s assistant to Leo Leigh on his debut feature film, Sweet Sue.
Nosa is a platform agnostic director writer. Her work in the cross section between technology and storytelling has led her to being named “Britain’s Next Level Gaming Talent” by the Apple app store, a future creative leader by Google Creative Labs Creative Director, Tea Uglow, as well as a Trailblazer by Accenture. She is an alumnus of the National Film and Television School and the Soho Theatre Writers Lab. She has also written an episodic interactive digital experience on mobile for a Future Book award winning start-up, has been in the writers room for an EA game and written an episodic narrative on the Amazon Alexa for the BBC. In 2018, Nosa was picked for the BFI Flare/BAFTA mentorship programme as well as co-writing and directing short film, Something In The Closet, which played festivals including BFI Flare Festival 2020 and BFI London Film Festival 2019. Nosa recently directed episodes of Big Age for Channel 4/Tiger Aspect, Six Foot Something for Sky/Hattrick and Still So Awkward for BBC/Channel X. She was also one of Edinburgh TV Festival’s Ones To Watch for 2022. She currently has a show in development with Red Productions/StudioCanal, is directing an Audible podcast and has her debut feature, The Young And The Dopeness, in development with the British Film Institute.
Rachel (they/she) is a queer film and theatre producer based in the West Midlands. Rachel’s areas of interest include queer stories, mental health and using comedy to explore complex social issues. Rachel is always looking to champion bold and original projects, particularly those that are rooted in forgotten or overlooked places.
A BAFTA Connect member, BFI Producers Programme alum and co-founder of Panad Productions, their recent screen projects include short film Jelly (Ffilm Cymru, BBC Wales, Mad as Birds), winner of the 2022 Chapter Queer Prize, Iris Prize Best of British selection and commissioned for BBC Two Wales and Channel 4.Rachel’s next project, The Girl with the Haunted Vagina, (BFI Network) starring Sophie Duker is about to begin its festival run and she has several shorts in development, including a queer period horror supported by Ffilm Cymru.
Sarah is a working-class, queer writer, director and performer based in Glasgow. She has a number of BAFTA qualifying short films under her belt, her most recent short, ‘Candy’ being funded by Screen Scotland. Sarah’s short form work for BBC The Social and BBC Short Stuff, featuring female fronted comedy is RTS Award winning and has gained tens of millions of views across digital and social media. She has been part of programmes such as BAFTA x BFI Flare, EIFF Talent Lab and UKTV Comedy 50:50 pilot initiative, and Less is More, and she has long formwork in development with BBC Studios, Happy Tramp North and Northbridge Media. Sarah is committed to creating body positive, sex positive and inclusive female-led stories that are honest, feminist and fearless.
Alongside the Comedy Collective, Jon Petrie announced £50,000 of comedy grants which have been awarded to comedy outreach and inclusion projects with a focus on under-represented groups and those across the UK.
The grants are an opportunity for BBC Comedy to increase engagement with companies and organisations who want to support growth and access opportunities in comedy.
The £5k grants for 2023 have each been awarded to:
- COVEN COMEDY: Focus on women, gender minorities and queer voices in comedy in NI – Northern Ireland
- FAT PANDA MEDIA: Sketch comedy workshops in schools in Belfast – Northern Ireland
- FELT NOWT: Extend their programme to focus on workshops for LGBTQ+ comedy performers in the region – North East
- LAURELS: Help move comedy talent from lower socio-economic backgrounds off social media and into larger scale development: North East
- STEPPING STONES: Working with young parents on a 12 week sketch comedy programme to help inspire for jobs in creative sector – Scotland
- YOUR CINENA: Panels & Q+As about social media & comedy, aimed at young diverse talent – London
- COMEDY 50:50: Female directors event and female writers event – London
- BEST IN CLASS: Events and sessions to upskill working class comedian for development for screen – Liverpool & London
- CULTURAL COMEDY TOURS: Comedy workshops for people who identify as living with disabilities – Manchester
- GWNEUD: Help launch a creative facility for Comedy in North Wales to help paths for young people in comedy – North Wales
Share this story