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.