The BBC is investing an additional £10 million ($12.3 million) in developing comedy.
Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival in Newcastle, U.K., on Wednesday, BBC director of comedy Jon Petrie also revealed that the broadcaster will double the number of half-hour pilots made.
BBC Comedy and BBC Sounds will co-commission up to four audio comedy pilots. BBC Comedy Short Films will launch in June, consolidating current short form strands to create a space for both new and established talent to experiment and develop new work. Existing writing grants are being expanded into the BBC Comedy Bursary Collective initiative, which will give emerging comedy directors and producers a place to hone their craft.
BBC also unveiled a revival, commissions and re-commissions. Jack Whitehall’s “Bad Education,” that ran for three seasons from 2012 through 2014, is being revived with a one-off 10th anniversary special, followed by a new six-part series written by a team of breakthrough writers. Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones’s BAFTA-winning “Detectorists,” which ran for three seasons between 2014 and 2017, is being revived for a one-off special.
Mawaan Rizwan’s comedy pilot “Juice” has been commissioned as a series, while new short form comedy “Mobility” has been commissioned from comedians Jack Carroll and Tom Gregory. An, hit series “Jerk,” “The Cleaner” and “Guilt” have been re-commissioned.
Petrie said: “BBC Comedy is doing phenomenally well. Last year, iPlayer had 538 million requests for comedy shows. The BBC is by far the biggest fish in the pond when it comes to comedy. There is no other broadcaster that can provide as many services.”
“The BBC remains the best place to develop and nurture new comic voices,” Petrie said, adding that the additional investment would enable more “ambitious pieces.”
“More than anything else we want shows that connect with our audience – whether they’re big and broad or weird and provocative,” Petrie said. “Worlds that the audience can see themselves in often connect in the deepest way, shows that feel uniquely British.”