BBC star searchin’

Pubcaster puts up coin to catch new talent

LONDON — The BBC announced the U.K.’s biggest-ever cattle call Thursday, a £5 million ($8 million) talent search intended to help replenish the pubcaster’s dwindling stock of stars.

The initiative, dubbed BBC Talent, will seek out new program makers, sitcom writers, standup comedians, presenters and composers. Over the coming year, about 40 hopefuls drawn from more than 11,000 auditions will land at least a temporary gig with the Beeb.

Creative flight

The idea is to help counter the seemingly growing exodus of talent from the corporation. Over the past year, top names such as vet sports anchor Des Lynam and comics David Baddiel and Frank Skinner defected to commercial TV.

To the few who make the grade, the BBC is offering a number of prizes that could kickstart a career in broadcasting.

Sitcom writers — with a little guidance from Ben Elton, Richard Curtis and other noted scribes — will compete for a commission that will air on niche channel BBC Choice.

Standups will go head to head at an Edinburgh festival show to be aired on BBC1. The winner gets a contract with BBC Choice.

Talking heads

Also, spoils on offer to TV presenters include six-month stints with BBC News and BBC Sport.

BBC director general Greg Dyke said: “The success of the BBC is down to the people who make the programs — creative people, risk takers, thinkers, innovators and great performers. We have to make (the BBC) a magnet for talent and a fun place to be.”

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