BBC Launches Search For Multicultural Sitcom Writers

The Stage‘s Matthew Hemley reports that the BBC is promoting a competition to attract comedy writers who can break out of the mold of “white, middle class” sitcoms:

All Mixed Up is an initiative that will give writers from all backgrounds the chance to submit the first ten pages of a sitcom to the BBC, with the best six scripts being workshopped and developed ahead of a showcase, featuring a professional cast, at the Soho Theatre on December 4.

From this, a panel will choose the two best scripts, with the winner receiving £1,000 and the runner-up getting £500. In return, the BBC will have exclusive rights to develop the scripts, with the possibility of a commission further down the line.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this project. There have been a few very successful BBC comedies in the past that have featured ethnic minority casts, including the classic BBC AMERICA show Kumars at No. 42, which featured a South Asian family who interviewed celebrity guests in the TV studio that so happened to be built in their backyard. Here’s a clip with guest Minnie Driver, who is so amused by the antics of Grandma Ummi (Meera Syal) that she can’t keep it together:

And there was the massively successful, BAFTA-nominated 1990s sitcom Chef!, which starred Lenny Henry, a British comedian of African descent (and soon-to-be ex-husband of Dawn French).

Hey, at least the Beeb is making an effort here, which is much more than we can say for most U.S. networks. Hope they aim a little higher than those Tyler Perry monstrosities on TBS.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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