BBC Comedy has today announced its continued commitment to developing talented BAME comedy writers, with its second Felix Dexter Bursary initiative. A six-month bursary will be awarded to train an aspiring comedy writer to develop their skills at the BBC.
The opportunity, offered by BBC Comedy in partnership with the BBC Writersroom, is designed to find a writer with a fresh, unique point of view and the potential to help shape the future of comedy, whether in the BBC or elsewhere in the industry. It aims to make a positive intervention to address an under-representation of BAME professionals in comedy production in broadcasting.
On a practical level, the bursary gives up-and-coming talent the chance to make comedy writing their main focus for six months, while immersed in comedy production. They will hone their skills while gaining experience on a range of BBC comedies across radio, TV and online, on panel shows, shorts, sitcoms or comedy entertainment shows. The programme will offer the writer the support they need to take the next step in their career.
The first Felix Dexter Bursary was launched in 2017 after Paul Whitehouse (Trustee of the Felix Dexter Foundation) and BBC Comedy Commissioner Shane Allen agreed that supporting and encouraging writers from an ethnic minority background would be a fitting tribute to the late comedy actor and writer, who featured in iconic BBC comedies including The Fast Show and The Real McCoy.
Today’s announcement follows the success of the first initiative last year. Bursaries were awarded to Leah Chillery and Jonny Wright, whose placements took them behind the scenes on a range of shows from BBC Three’s Famalam and This Country to BBC One’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and Radio 4’s Newsjack.
The writers also had the opportunity to develop scripts that were read by casts at table reads produced by BBC Studios (Famalam) and Fudge Park (The Inbetweeners). Leah and Jonny are continuing to develop their scripts as part of ongoing support provided by BBC Comedy and the BBC Writersroom.
Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning says: “The Felix Dexter Bursary has given budding comedy writers the chance to begin their careers in television, and we want to make that happen again. Finding, backing and supporting new and diverse British talent so they have the opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell is incredibly important to us, and our audience, and we’re excited to be bringing this opportunity back.”
Sarah Asante, Comedy Commissioning, says: “BBC Comedy has always worked with the very best emerging talent. Programmes like Famalam, Man Like Mobeen, People Just Do Nothing and the upcoming Diary of a Hounslow Girl (w/t) are fantastic examples of contemporary comedy from writers and performers from ethnic minority backgrounds, often making their first network TV appearances on the BBC. We hope this inspires up and coming comedy writers to apply for the bursary.”
The bursary will be open to black, Asian and other ethnic minority writers or writing duos who are aged 18 or over.
Applications can be made via the BBC Writersroom from Tuesday 19 June at 5pm for six weeks, closing on Monday 30 July at 5pm. Further details are available from BBC Writersroom.