UKTV has appointed Sarah Asante as Commissioning Editor to drive the multi-channel broadcaster’s scripted comedy ambitions.

Reporting to Pete Thornton, Head of Scripted, Asante will join UKTV’s commissioning team on 12 April and will be responsible for seeking out, developing, commissioning and executive producing brand-new scripted comedy shows for both Dave and Gold.

Asante joins from the BBC and with more than 16 years’ experience working in commissioning.

She started in the public service broadcaster’s comedy team as a Development and Digital Content Editor in 2015 and was later promoted to Commissioning Editor in 2018 – providing editorial oversight on a slate delivering short form series and long form sketch and sitcom ideas for BBC Two and Three.

Asante’s recent commissions include cult hit sketch show FAMALAM and comedy pilots Behind the Filter, written by Phoebe Walsh.

Before joining the BBC, Sarah spent over a decade working in commissioning teams across Factual and Entertainment at Fox International Channels, Scripps Networks, ITV and Channel 4.

Pete Thornton said: “This is a transformative hire for us. I know that UKTV is going to benefit hugely from Sarah’s experience and enthusiasm and I’m really looking forward to working with her on our burgeoning scripted slate. She joins the company at an exciting time and I’m sure she’ll quickly make her mark. As well as taking the reins on a number of returning series, Sarah will be integral in generating a portfolio of fresh content for the network. So with all that in mind, I can’t wait for her to join the team.”

Asante added: “Having admired both the comedy and comedy entertainment titles on Dave and Gold over the years, I’m beyond thrilled to play a role in seeing those channels go from strength to strength. The added commitment to amplifying more underrepresented voices in comedy matches my ambition to deliver exciting and distinctive content that audiences across the portfolio will love.”

UKTV experienced a year of growth in 2020 and three of its scripted comedy commissions rated highly on the network. On Dave, cult sci-fi series Red Dwarf: The Promised Land was watched by over two million viewers, making it the channel’s most watched show in seven years, and Meet The Richardsons became the strongest launch for a brand-new original series for five years with 1.13 million people tuning in to watch Jon and Lucy’s “funny and frustrated” marriage. Over on Gold, scripted comedy series Sandylands starring Sanjeev Bhaskar and Natalie Dew was the second highest rating show of the year.

For 2021, CEO Marcus Arthur has committed to increasing investment in original programming, strengthening partnerships with the production community, and growing on-demand service UKTV Play. Director of Commissioning, Richard Watsham, said that 2021 will see UKTV’s biggest ever investment in originations.

UKTV recently put a call out for underrepresented writers in comedy and committed to commissioning a diverse anthology series for Dave.

From the minds behind Murder on the Blackpool Express, Death on the Tyne and Dial M for Middlesbrough, brand-new scripted comedy Murder, They Hope launches on Gold this May. Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson return as Terry Bremmer and Gemma Draper, and the series welcomes Sarah Hadland (Miranda) and Shobna Gulati (dinnerladies).


Jon Creamer

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