03 September, 2009

Radio comedy opportunity

(via BBC writersroom)

Recorded for Training Purposes is a sketch show for BBC Radio 4. Its remit is to be about modern communication - a wide brief, perfect for new writers.

The third series went out in January 2009. For that run there was a core writing team of people who’d written on the first two series but the show was also opened up to, well, anyone who wanted a go. Of the 110 sketches broadcast, exactly half were from the core writers, with the other half being sent in by non-commissioned writers.

Every sketch sent in (about 2,000) was read by at least two people from BBC Radio Comedy, with the best stuff gradually being filtered towards the recording scripts, and the stuff that got most laughs getting on air.

It has a cast of six - three men, three women - who can, between them, play most ages.

Series four will, like series three, be written by a mix of a) some people who have written on previous series and b) everyone else in the world.

As in previous series, we’re looking for sketches about modern communication. Our experience with this show indicates that:

  • If you’re going to parody a TV/Radio format, you should look to do a parody of a genre rather than a specific show (so: arts programmes rather than simply Imagine or The South Bank Show).
  • Thinly-veiled attacks on recognisable celebrities/personalities work quite well (eg, politician/journalist Boris Moron; dandy TV presenter/stand-up Danny Vain)
  • You’re more likely to catch our attention with a shorter sketch. If you can’t do the sketch in three pages, ask yourself whether it’s worth it
  • Not enough people know you can’t really swear on Radio 4, even at 11pm
  • Sketches work better when they contain distinct characters, rather than just dialogue between anonymous people
What aren’t we looking for?
  • Someone reading their blog over the top of a sound effect of a keyboard being tapped - we have a talented and varied cast, bring more voices in
  • Parodies of specific programmes/adverts
  • Impressions (although the cast probably could do them if asked, we try to avoid direct impressions)
  • Meetings where a series of people pitch terrible ideas for TV shows/adverts/that sort of thing
  • SatNav sketches
  • Or, come to that, Twitter/Facebook/Bebo sketches. Which isn’t to say we won’t do them, but we’ve done quite a few and it would really have to stand out for us to consider it

Series three seemed - through more accident than design - to focus more on the method of communication than on the content. So we'd like to encourage a broader interpretation of the term communication, because there are only so many SatNav sketches we can bear to read.

Here are six themes that we've spuriously come up with.

  • Power
  • Idiots
  • Obsolescence
  • Instinct
  • Abundance
  • Lies

Those are (all things being equal) the themes for the six shows - so, however tangentially, what you send in should have something to do with communication AND at least one of those (it could, of course, fit more than one). Send no more than two sketches to rftp@bbc.co.uk by 12:00 midnight on the evening of Friday 2nd October 2009. All submissions will be read and considered. If we like what you’ve done, you'll hear from us soon.

Deadline: 12:00 midnight 2 October 2009

Sketches should be attached as a .doc or .rtf file (not Final Draft or .pdf, please) and titled [YOUR NAME] - [YOUR SKETCH].


One way to break into radio comedy:

Jason Arnopp tells how he became a commissioned writer on the show


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