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BBC3 encourages fresh talent with The Last Laugh

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Leading television writers including The Liver Birds’ creator Carla Lane and Birds of a Feather authors Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran are taking part in a BBC3 project that will see upcoming talent complete sitcoms the established writers have started.

The scheme, called The Last Laugh, follows on from the success of End of Story, which enabled the public to complete half-finished short stories penned by some of the UK’s top authors and which received 17,000 entries. This time established screenwriters are crafting the first part of eight entirely new sitcoms, leaving new writers to complete them.

Stuart Murphy, controller of BBC3, said: “End of Story demonstrated that there is a massive interest out there in writing and it seemed natural to follow up its success by turning the format towards writing for television. Everyone acknowledges that getting into comedy writing is notoriously difficult for the regular man or woman in the street but with End of Story we proved that the barriers can be blown away.

“You don’t have to be part of some exclusive television circle of contacts. At the same time, we hope to tap into some new and innovative comedy talent out there, because the truth is that good comedy can come from anywhere, from any direction, and we want to pick up on and develop new talent through The Last Laugh.”

Like End of Story, The Last Laugh will begin with a launch programme followed up by a ‘results’ series in the autumn presented by comedian Dara O’Briain. A judging panel will then select five entries to go through to the original writers, who will choose their winner, which could become a comedy pilot for the channel.

The show follows on from last year’s drive to find new sitcom writers, with finalists showcasing during the station’s talent week next month. Earlier this year Channel 4 and Five announced their commitment to upcoming talent in comedy with similar schemes and funding put aside to widen opportunities for those trying to break into the industry. For details on the writers and titles of the part-started sitcoms visit www.bbc.co.uk/lastlaugh.

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