BBC Reveals Future Plans for Comedy


At the BBC Comedy Festival, Director of Comedy Jon Petrie revealed that the BBC will invest an extra £10 million ($12.2 million) in comedy programming over the next two years.

In addition, BBC Comedy will double the number of half-hour pilots made and will continue to be the biggest investor in comedy in the U.K.

Among the projects that have already been greenlit for the future is Mawaan Rizwan’s Juice, which follows Jamma, who desperately wants to be the center of attention. His family is constantly stealing his thunder, and when he finally gets the validation he wants from his boyfriend, he can’t handle it. The series is written and created by Rizwan, who also stars.

Two series are set to return after long hiatuses: Detectorists and Bad Education. Detectorists, which launched in 2014 and has been on hiatus for five years, will return later this year for a one-off 75-minute special. Bad Education, meanwhile, will return for a one-off, ten-year anniversary special episode, followed by the launch of a brand-new series. The special will mark a farewell to Jack Whitehall’s classic character Alfie.

“I’m so pumped for a ten-year anniversary special of Bad Education, the show that launched my career,” Whitehall said. “I have such fond memories, and it will be great for the fans to check in and find out what class K have been up to since they left and if Alfie Wickers is still as much of a melt as they remember.”

He continued, “The new rebooted series is so exciting. I’m so old and irrelevant I’ve decided it’s best I take more of a producer role with Bad Education, but we’ve assembled a young, talented group of writers led by the brilliant Nathan Bryon, who will be carrying the torch. Charlie Wernham is his generation’s Danny Dyer but with less royal heritage. Hopefully being a lead in this will be a springboard to him doing a decade of violent Brit flicks about hooliganism. Layton Williams is a superstar. I honestly think one day he will be an EGOTT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, TV Choice Award winner). Abbey Grove and the new class K couldn’t be in safer hands.”

New seasons of Jerk, The Cleaner and Guilt will be debuting as well.

BBC Comedy and BBC Sounds have also co-commissioned up to four audio comedy pilots. They will work with new and emerging performers on creating comedy characters or personas that have the potential to be developed further. Submissions will open June 8.

Also in June, BBC Comedy Short Films, consolidating BBC Comedy’s existing published short-form strands (Laugh Lessons, Threesomes, Quickies), will launch. It will create a space for new and established talent to experiment and develop new work.

Additionally, BBC is reopening submissions for the existing Writing Bursaries and launching the new Producer and Director Bursaries, all under a BBC Comedy Bursary Collective later this year.

“The BBC remains the best place to develop and nurture new comic voices…We want to invest more in our development process,” Petrie said.

He continued, “More than anything else, we want shows that connect with our audience—whether they’re big and broad or weird and provocative. Worlds that the audience can see themselves in often connect in the deepest way… shows that feel uniquely British.”