Sunday, 2 September 2012

Shortlist's Sitcom Search

I have surfaced to tell you about this competition - one that I personally haven't heard about before, and just happened to come across as I picked up the Shortlist magazine as I stepped off the plane at Heathrow. 

The British sitcom is a strangely indestructible beast. No matter how many times it’s pronounced dead in fretful blogs and newspaper columns, it always comes back to life. Rising from the grave, zombie-like and marauding onwards into newly hilarious territory.

Alan Partridge’s latest bounce-back in Mid Morning Matters, successful new comedy-drama Fresh Meat, a clutch of critically acclaimed digital commissions; belaboured analogies involving the undead aside, you only need to glance at the TV schedules to see that there’s a comedy gold rush afoot. And, ludicrous as it sounds, you could be a part of it.

We’ve teamed up with Comedy Central UK, home of the funniest comedies on TV, and Big Talk (the powerhouse behind shows including Spaced, Friday Night Dinner, Threesome and Rev) to offer a cash prize and development deal to one triumphant reader-penned script. Interested? Read on – and check out the sample script and details of how to enter over the page.


The winning writer, or team of writers, in ShortList’s Sitcom Search will receive a truly monumental prize. As well as publishing an excerpt of your script in ShortList, we’re offering a £5,000 development deal with Big Talk and Comedy Central UK. This means that, together with the experts, you’ll work on your sitcom idea with a view to preparing it for production, and ultimately, broadcast.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean your gag-filled clump of A4 will languish at the back of a filing cabinet somewhere. Comedy Central UK has made it known: if it’s funny enough, it wants it on its channel. What’s more, each reader who makes it to the final four will receive a mentoring session with established comedy writers, and there’ll be an opportunity to blog about these sessions and talk about your script at


To be part of ShortList’s Sitcom Search, simply go here and submit your entry. This should include a brief one-page description selling your sitcom idea, your contact details, plus a correctly formatted original, unbroadcasted script of 3-10 pages (A4, sensible font, 12pt) that’s solely the work of you or your writing team. Entries from reasonably experienced screenwriters are welcomed, but we will not accept scripts from agents – they must come direct from the writer. You must be a UK resident over 18 years of age, as of 24 September 2012. The competition is open to both men and women.


The scripts will be judged by an expert panel including Kenton Allen, chief executive of Big Talk, Jill Offman, MD at Comedy Central UK, Friday Night Dinner creator Robert Popper and Martin Robinson, editor of ShortList.


All entries must be uploaded to by 11.59pm on 24 September. No entries by post or email. Any scripts arriving after this date, or not featuring the proper criteria, will not be accepted.


The competition will run over the next 12 weeks and consist of various stages as we sift through the entries before crowning our favourite script. The dates to look out for are below:
• After the initial script-reading process, the judges will reduce the list of scripts down to 40. These will be revealed in early October, so you can see if you’ve made it.
• The final 40 scripts will then be cut down to four. The writers behind these will be revealed in late October.
• For two weeks after that, our finalists will spend time workshopping their sitcom idea with an established comedy writer.
• After much deliberation, and perhaps the opening of a shiny gold envelope, we’ll announce the winner on a soon-to-be-revealed date in November.