BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow: Jon Petrie champions homegrown storytelling and sitcoms

Jon Petrie champions homegrown storytelling and the importance of sitcoms at the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow



May 23 - BBC Director of Comedy, Jon Petrie, today called for the TV industry to save our sitcoms with a focus on protecting homegrown storytelling and creating the next generation of classics, as he announced six new and returning shows.

Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival taking place this week in Glasgow, Jon confirmed:

• Much-loved family favourite Outnumbered will return for a Christmas special

• The Power of Parker and Mammoth are both greenlit for second series

• Lee Mack’s Not Going Out, the longest-running British sitcom on air, is back

• Brand new series Smoggie Queens, starring Mark Benton and set in Teeside, and Funboys, set and filmed in Northern Ireland

Jon said: “We’re delighted to be in Glasgow, a city with proper comedy heritage and legendary humour, for our third annual BBC Comedy Festival.

“The BBC has always been the place for homegrown comedy hits that people want to come back to again and again – from Gavin and Stacey to Only Fools, to This Country and Ghosts. This is what we want to protect and invest in. It’s the very best storytelling from across the UK and it’s what our new commitments in development are all about.

“Mainstream comedy is what viewers love best. It’s written right through our comedy heritage and is so close to our hearts. It can tell our stories and bring us together like nothing else. That’s why audiences and critics feel so passionately about it and have such a strong sense of ownership.

“We want producers to take risks and create the next generation of classic sitcoms and immortal characters that audiences will keep returning to for decades to come.”

Jon pointed to previous callouts for producers to pitch more sitcoms, and the fast-changing media landscape, including the effects of strikes, inflation and recession, which he said had resulted in a smaller comedy eco-system.

He said: “At our first comedy festival in Newcastle two years ago, I said sitcoms were what we wanted to see more of. I said it again last year, in Cardiff.

“But the truth is we’re still not getting pitched enough of the comedy we need to keep people happy... If our comedy eco-system is shrinking, then it’s on all us to fight for the right of UK mainstream comedy to exist.

“The sitcom isn’t dead but it needs a couple of Berocca. And a black americano with two sugars. We’re asking you to do something really ambitious and help save our sitcom. It’s what audiences want to see.”

Jon unveiled plans to fund six writers’ rooms with show ideas originated and led by an experienced showrunner and backed by teams of established and new writing talent to create the next big UK sitcom. He cited shows such as Ghosts, Two Doors Down, Motherland and Here We Go, as examples.

He said: “We know that making a laugh out loud series is much easier said than done. So, in order to supercharge development in that area we are announcing a brand-new initiative for UK producers. We are committing to funding writers’ rooms with show ideas originated and led by an experienced showrunner to create the next big UK sitcom with broad appeal.”

Talking about the BBC’s commitment to comedy, Jon said that viewing figures were thriving.

“Our audiences have never wanted to watch comedy more, 8 of the 10 biggest comedies of last year were on the BBC, with the Ghosts Christmas Special at number one, attracting 7.2M viewers.

Last year saw 400 million hours watched of comedy on the BBC overall, and 700 million requests on iPlayer.

“This month we saw a brilliant night for BBC Comedy at the BAFTAs – with Best Comedy for Such Brave Girls and best comedy performances for Gbemisola Ikumelo in Black Ops and Mawaan Rizwan in Juice, plus the Short Form award for Mobility.

“And we’ve got an incredible year ahead, with brilliant new comedies like Daddy Issues, Spent and We Might Regret This, not to mention Only Child that will be shooting here in Glasgow, co-commissioned with our colleagues from BBC Scotland. And that’s before we even mention the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special… Even the announcement sent the show straight back into the BBC iPlayer top 10.

“We are still the biggest investor in comedy in the UK. And contrary to some reports, we’re not cutting back. In the last year alone, we’ve released 9 new shows and 14 recommissions and we want to continue to commit to at least 20 new and returning comedies on the BBC each year.”

Louise Thornton, Head of Commissioning, BBC Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow this year. Scotland is home to some of the BBC’s most popular comedy characters and shows – Still Game, Scot Squad, Two Doors Down and more recently Dinosaur have been delighting our audiences for years as have our stand-up acts on Scotland’s lively comedy circuit. We are proud of the role BBC Scotland plays in backing both established and breakthrough talent both on and off screen and to welcome key industry figures to Glasgow to celebrate, discuss and explore future developments in this genre is hugely exciting.”

Source BBC One

May 24, 2024 3:00am ET by BBC One  


  Shortlink to this content:


Latest Press Releases

We may earn a commission from products purchased via links featured on our pages