Mark Benton (Waterloo Road, Early Doors), Ben Crompton (Ideal) and Angela Lonsdale (Coronation Street) were just some of the TV talents to perform at Northern Film & Media and the BBC North’s Jesting About: Funny Gets Serious live radio recording which was held at Newcastle’s Live Theatre on Sunday 19 February.
Compered by comedian Steve Drayton, a sold-out theatre audience had the first glimpse of the work produced in the radio strand of this year’s Jesting About initiative – a partnership between Northern Film & Media and BBC North to find the next generation of comedy talent for television and radio. The material recorded will be edited into a thirty minute radio sketch show that will air on BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC Radio Tees on Easter Sunday.
Jesting About will this year focus on developing content for three strands – a pilot sitcom for BBC One, a weekly live comedy/entertainment series for BBC Three and the BBC Radio Newcastle/Tees radio slots. Over 600 comedy scripts and sketches were submitted by performers, writers and filmmakers this year and 31 individuals have been selected to undertake a programme of mentoring and development.
“Featuring top talent, key executives and the region’s most promising writers and performers, we’re confident that the Jesting About radio sketch show will once again be an audience hit in the North East,” said Helen Spencer, Jesting About’s producer.
“With the TV strands developing into strong propositions, Jesting About is on-track to build on the success of last year’s launch initiative.”
Jesting About was launched last year and featured mentoring from North East comedy icons including Bob Mortimer, Ross Noble and Ian La Frenais. The eight week initiative resulted in an animation commissioned for broadcast on BBC Comedy Online and a sitcom script optioned by Pett Productions, the indie run by Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Lisa Clark. Jesting About graduates have also penned material for and performed on shows including Mock the Week and Celebrity Juice.
“Our partnership with the BBC continues to provide a structured programme to discover and develop this region’s most outstanding talent with one of the world’s leading comedy broadcasters,” added Agnes Wilkie, Northern Film & Media’s creative director.
“We’re optimistic that Jesting About will lead to more North East writers and performers working with the BBC to develop TV and radio programmes that will be aired in the UK and beyond.”