Five emerging writers or writing pairs will take part in the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival or the New York Television Festival.
London, 15 July: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Rocliffe today announced the winners of a nationwide competition to find the UK’s most promising comedy writers without a television commission, who will showcase their work in front of the cream of the UK and US television industries at one of two major international television festivals.
Christiana Brockbank and writing pair Andrea Hubert & Ryan Cull will see an extract of their comedy script performed live in front of high profile industry attendees at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (GEITF) on Thursday 22 August, while Stewart Thomson and writing pairs Lizzie Bates & Anna Emerson, and Brona C. Titley & Tony Cooke, will fly to the US to have their work performed at the New York Television Festival (NYTVF), which runs from Monday 21 to Saturday 26 October.
The activity is a special incarnation of the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum, the Academy’s flagship writing programme in partnership with Rocliffe, and follows successful events at the New York Television Festival in 2011 and 2012. This year marks the first such event at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.
The successful writers were selected from almost 500 entrants during four rounds of voting. A jury of comedy professionals from the UK and US – including writer/actress Jessica Hynes (Twenty Twelve, Spaced), producer Caryn Mandabach (Nurse Jackie, In with the Flynns), executive producer Tom Anderson (Cheers, My Family), and representatives from all the major UK broadcasters – chose a shortlist of eight writers or writing teams to be interviewed at BAFTA’s headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London. The other writers that were highly commended by the jury, and will receive a free festival pass to GEITF, are Christian Manley and writing pairs Mark Clompus & Stephen Keyworth, and Edward Rowett & Robert Frimston.
BAFTA, with its branches in New York and Scotland, and Rocliffe are delivering the activity in partnership with British Airways, GEITF and NYTVF, and with the support of a number of individual donors.
In addition to having their work performed by professional actors at GEITF or NYTVF, the winning writers will receive: feedback during the event from top industry guests; one-to-one mentoring sessions with comedy commissioners and independent production companies; a free festival pass to GEITF; meetings with top UK agents; and bespoke industry networking opportunities. The BBC will also pay for a full script commission from one of the two writers selected for GEITF, whose name will be announced during the festival.
Andrew Newman, Chair of BAFTA’s Television Committee and Chief Executive of Objective Productions, said: “BAFTA is pleased to be able to bring such exciting new scriptwriting talent to international attention. Their future in the industry looks very bright. The standard of entries to the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum is always impressive, so even to be shortlisted is a fantastic achievement.”
Louise Benson, Director of the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming Christiana, Andrea and Ryan to Edinburgh for the live final leg of this exciting journey. With Shane Allen and John Bishop giving their expert feedback, and a BBC Script Commission up for grabs, I hope we’re helping propel these new writers to an exciting future!”
Terence Gray, Founder and Executive Director of the New York Television Festival, said: “In the three years of our partnership with BAFTA and the Rocliffe Forum, we've been consistently impressed with the overall quality, creativity and potential of the scripts in contention. This year's finalists represent a truly unique and exciting class of emerging writers and we look forward to sharing these voices with our industry attendees and TV fans during the Festival in New York this fall.”
Farah Abushwesha, Founder of Rocliffe, said: “It was incredible to see such a diverse group of comedy writers and writing. For me personally, it was particularly exciting to read entries from those who had never written before - everyone loves to discover new talent, especially us. The decision of who to pick is never easy but what I love about this initiative is the mentoring aspect and ongoing support those selected will have be given and the help they get to forge careers as comedy writers.”
All unsuccessful applicants receive a detailed script report to help them to develop their writing and story skills.
The ‘BAFTA Rocliffe Sitcom Showcase’ at the Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival takes place on Thursday 22 August, where the industry panel will include writer and comedian John Bishop and Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy at the BBC.
The BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum event at the New York Television Festival will take place between Monday 21 and Saturday 26 October. The winners will be blogging about their experiences for BAFTA at www.bafta.org/about/supporting-talent/rocliffe
Christiana Brockbank – Binwomen
Synopsis: A sitcom about Janet, a compulsive hoarder who works on the bins alongside wannabe ambulance driver (Christina) and inept newcomer (Nigel).
Christiana Brockbank (aged 26) is from Bolton and recently moved to Ealing in London. She studied Film & TV at the University of Warwick and completed a Masters in Writing for the Media at Bournemouth University in 2010. A former copywriter and script editor, Christiana is currently working in the world of retail. She has written scripts for various small projects as well as working on her own comedy material.
Andrea Hubert & Ryan Cull – The Sickness
Synopsis: When a catastrophe known as ‘The Sickness’ wipes out humanity, tribes of warring UK survivors struggle to navigate life without religion, money - or rules.
Andrea Hubert (aged 34) is a writer and stand-up comedian from Harrow, who now lives in Finsbury Park, north London. She studied English Literature at Leeds University. Since 2010, Andrea has performed at top venues all over the UK, including Komedia Brighton, Covent Garden Comedy Club, The Glee and Downstairs at the King’s Head. She has been a finalist in several national stand-up competitions, acted in sketches with “Top Ten on Twitter” comedian Bec Hill, and performed in 2012 as part of the prestigious Big Value Edinburgh Festival Showcase. She was commissioned by the BBC to provide voiceovers and sketches for a taster episode of Walk on the Wild Side Series 3, and is a regular contributor to the Guardian Guide, specialising in film interviews and features.
Ryan Cull (aged 34) is a Canadian stand-up comedian now living in Finsbury Park and working in London. In Canada, he was a regular weekend headliner at the world famous Yuk Yuks, and The Second City. He is a regular performer at comedy clubs across the UK, including The Glee, Highlight, Komedia, The Comedy Store, Covent Garden Comedy Club, Downstairs at the King’s Head and others. He was a comedic contributor to the pilot gameshow TriviaLIVE that was broadcast on a Sky channel and, as an actor, has appeared in several online sketches, including a recent promo with the award-winning Beta Males Picnic sketch group.
Stewart Thomson - Skwibs
Synopsis: The story of Francis Falkirk, a Scottish medium and spiritual detective on a mission to release the spirits of the restless dead.
Stewart Thomson (aged 34) was raised in Milngavie, near Glasgow. He graduated from the National Film and Television School in 2008, before returning home to Glasgow. His graduation film, Bill’s Visitors, was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award in 2008. The following year, Parliamo Glasgow, his first television commission (part of Channel 4’s Coming Up initiative) was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award. His feature Beating the Drum is currently being developed by BBC Films and Creative Scotland. Rocket Surgery, a comedy feature has recently been selected for lo-fi, the Scottish low-budget film initiative, and will go into production later this year.
Lizzie Bates & Anna Emerson – New Habits
Synopsis: When Sister Adie decides she’s quitting the convent, Jules helps her get to grips with life as a single woman in the big city.
Lizzie Bates and Anna Emerson (both aged 30) are comedy writers and actresses who have been working together since 2006. Lizzie is originally from Ashendon in Buckinghamshire and now lives in Bethnal Green, east London. Anna was raised in Thame, Oxfordshire and now lives in Holloway, north London. The pair both studied at Bristol University. As two-thirds of sketch trio The Boom Jennies, Lizzie Bates and Anna Emerson have taken several critically-acclaimed shows to the Edinburgh Fringe and featured in hit BBC Radio 4 show Sketchorama. In 2012, The Boom Jennies co-wrote and co-starred in their debut BBC Radio 4 sitcom, Mission Improbable, and a second series is due for broadcast in 2014. Lizzie has played a zombie princess in the short film Misguided and starred in the pilot for primetime BBC1 hidden camera show Richard Hammond's Secret Service. Anna is a frequent feature of cult podcast The John Dredge Nothing To Do With Anything Show and is due to star in her first solo show, An Evening With Patti DuPont, at this year’s Camden Fringe.
Brona C. Titley & Tony Cooke – Nannies
Synopsis: Maisie and four other under paid, overworked child minders on her exclusive London street, are paid to parent the next generation of the ridiculously rich.
Nannies is Brona and Tony's first script together.
Brona C Titley (aged 32) is an actress and comedy writer from Dublin, currently living in Walthamstow in London. She studied Drama and English at Trinity College Dublin, and Professional Acting at LAMDA. Brona's first play Effigy won Best New Writing at ISDA, went on a full national stage tour and was produced by RTE Radio 1. Brona was the co-writer/performer of comedy Jobless Satisfaction (Edinburgh, Dublin, Portlaoise) and the co-creator/writer of Desperate, a sitcom pilot script for BBC Comedy. Brona writes/performs in online comedy sketches such as The Potential Wives of Prince Harry, which was a finalist for BeActive Digital Comedy Award in 2012. Also in 2012 Brona wrote The Parlour, a new pilot script for Grand Pictures.
Tony Cooke (aged 35) is a comedy writer from London and lives in Enfield. He studied Geography at Nottingham University and did a postgraduate course in Journalism at Cardiff University. In 2006 he was a finalist in the BBC’s Last Laugh sitcom writing competition, and since then he has written for both comedy and children’s TV shows. His comedy credits include: The Armstrong & Miller Show, Mumbai Calling, Dead Ringers, The Kumars at No. 42, and commissioned original sitcom scripts for BBC1 and BBC3. His kids’ credits include: The Revolting World of Stanley Brown, Hounded, and BAFTA-nominated episodes of The Legend of Dick and Dom and Diddy Movies. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Breakthrough Talent Award at the British Academy Children’s Awards.
Christian Manley – Irrelevant
Synopsis: The sketch show that puts things back out of perspective.
Christian Manley (aged 34) is a writer and comedian from Caerleon, near Newport, South Wales, who now lives in Peckham, southeast London. He got his first break writing and presenting his own television show for ITV Wales when he was still in school. He studied English Literature at the University of Warwick, where he convinced Germaine Greer to fund his comedy magazine and introduce his short film at Warwick Arts Centre. Christian was given a Special Recommendation Award from the New London Comedy Awards for his stand up and was a So You Think You’re Funny semi-finalist. He recently presented his own slot on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side. He’s written for a range of established talent while developing his own script ideas.
Mark Clompus & Stephen Keyworth – Specials
Synopsis: Binmen and shop assistants by day, volunteer police on their day off. As crime gets dumber, who better to catch an idiot than another idiot?
London-born Mark Clompus (aged 50) lives in Southwark, London. An English Literature graduate from Kent University, he has written children's television, cartoons, drama documentaries and short theatre pieces but has always really wanted to do comedy. Last year he reached the final of the Sitcom Mission (sponsored by Hat Trick) with Medicine to Follow (written with Stephen Keyworth). His television credits include Holby City, The Animated Bean, Bodystory and Missing, which he also storylined, as well as episodes of Doctors and Eastenders. He was one of eight writers selected to be taught by John Yorke on the BBC Writers’ Academy. His feature film script Howdy East Orange was read at The Script Factory and bought by Dogstar Films and his short play Jimmy in Broadmoor was performed at Theatre 503 just before the news about Jimmy Savile emerged.
Stephen Keyworth (aged 41) was raised in Nottingham and now lives in Hornsey, north London. He studied drama at Manchester University, and is a graduate of the BBC Writers Academy. Stephen has written for EastEnders and Casualty and Doctors. His work for Radio 4 includes The Continuity Man, Gondwanaland, My Difficult Second Album, an adaptation of A Farewell To Arms, and forthcoming comedy Making The Best Of It. He has written sitcom pilots for BBC Comedy, Leopardrama and Bayamber and in 2011 won the Shine Pictures Big Idea feature film prize. Stage plays include Mad For It (nominated Best New Play Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards) at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, Dog Well Done (winner of Amnesty International Theatre Award) and Zimbabwe Boy for Flight 5065 at the National Theatre. Stephen also worked for some years as a stand-up comedian.
Edward Rowett & Robert Frimston – Hardacre’s
Synopsis: Hardacre’s is London’s worst advertising agency, catering to the smallest, strangest, and most sinister clients around.
Edward Rowett (aged 25) grew up in Oxford and Robert Frimston (aged 25) hails from Salford. They met at Cambridge University where Edward studied English, and later American Literature, and Robert studied music. Since graduating in 2009, the pair has worked as a sketch comedy duo, titled ‘Frimston and Rowett’. They have taken several shows to the Edinburgh Fringe, and have performed together at venues around the country. Hardacre’s is their first feature-length script.
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Rocliffe created a series of events, notably the New Writing Forums, now held at BAFTA and renamed the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum. With its inception in 2000 by founding member Farah Abushwesha and a dedicated team including award winning director Susan Jacobson and casting director Laura Dickens CDG. The format of the New Writing Forum is truly original – following a public script call-out in the months before the event, three diverse pieces are selected from the hundreds received and performed live by professional actors in front of a live audience. The pieces are framed by especially composed music by new composers from Air Edel and digital art. The event showcases undiscovered talent – a must attend for agents and talent scouts alike; development focused discussions generated by the readings; exposure to and advice from experienced industry members; feedback from an audience and an invaluable method to test out new concepts and material. Given the often isolating nature of the industry, the forums create the ideal environment for networking as well as unknown writers the chance to get their work seen and heard. Past featured writers include James Dormer, Jack Thorne, Josh Appignanesi and Claire Wilson.
Now in its 38th year, The Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival is the essential annual event for anyone involved in the media industry. GEITF 2013 takes place on 22 - 24 August.
Established in 2005, the NYTVF constructs new and innovative paths of development and talent identification, while simultaneously complementing the traditional television development model. By partnering directly with networks, studios, production companies, digital platforms and brands, the NYTVF provides its Industry Partners with a streamlined development model, leveraging its vast creative community of over 12,000 independent producers and production companies, to create content with specific partners in mind. During the annual New York Television Festival – held each fall in New York City – the NYTVF brings together its top artists and industry decision-makers for a series of events designed to foster networking, collaboration and education. The Festival also marks the culmination of the organizations yearly development efforts and features screenings of top independent content, educational panels, fan events, red carpet premieres, and more. For more information on the NYTVF and the annual Festival, visit www.nytvf.com, and to learn about opportunities to submit for its year-round competitions, visit http://www.nytvf.com/submit.html.