Updated : Tue, 28 Aug 2012 09:53:42 +0000
Last month YouTube celebrated its 7th birthday. Hulu, the largest legal TV streaming service in the US, will be 5 in August (It's four months older than iPlayer). There's been much talk in the US recently about online video "growing up". Google's decision to foster partnerships with content producers, starting with its YouTube Partner Program, has now seen the launch of premium video channels. At a presentation to advertisers in May, US comedian Chris Hardwick, who runs YouTube's popular Nerdist channel, summed up Google's intentions best: "The web will be to cable TV what cable TV was to broadcast".
Google though is not an isolated case, and other online platforms are taking it further. Both Hulu & Netflix have commissioned exclusive web series including political sitcom "Battleground", a new reality show from Morgan Spurlock, and a series of documentaries from the acclaimed director Richard Linklater. US online video services are for a wide variety of reasons evolving, but what's still unknown, and so exciting, is what effect the continual growth of this video market will have on Television.
This is contextually interesting, and relevant to the BBC, because today we published seven brand new comedy shows online. Of course that happens regularly on the iPlayer, but these shows have never been on television; they were commissioned for bbc.co.uk. Promoted by BBC Three as Feed My Funny Exclusives, and championed by controller Zai Bennett as a chance to find "the next Gavin and Stacey or Little Britain", they throw up exciting possibilities for comedy, a genre where traditionally you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the next Prince or Princess, like Mrs Brown.
New talent, new formats and new scripts can be developed at relatively low cost in relation to TV production and put in front of an audience. Architecturally, the Feed My Funny Exclusives, use the same templates as TV shows, working within bbc.co.uk/programmes, utilising iBroadcast, and they can appear in IPlayer. But the differences are what makes this so exciting going forward. These shows don't need to be 28 minutes long, they cost less to make than most TV comedy and they are at that intersection between technology and storytelling Ralph Rivera described a few months ago.
How many of this year's Feed My Funny Exclusives will go to full TV series remains to be seen. What we do know is that when more are commissioned later this year, we can ask some interesting questions. For example, what would data driven comedy look like? After all, Yahoo, who now commission web series, make programming choices driven by data. After tracking the torrent of clicks that news stories about wedding engagements routinely get they commissioned a reality web show "The Ultimate Proposal".
Could we create a personalised comedy akin to the Tipp-Ex Bear on YouTube using bbc programme pages? Or create live comedy driven entirely from social media feeds? Technology is changing what we can do with comedy but all that really matters is how funny the end product is. So I will leave you to judge and comment on what's been produced for the first series of Feed My Funny exclusives, but I would like to point out that without this project we would never have been able to unveil the latest revolution in equine technology. It keeps you up to date with news for horses, surf websites for horses, and connect with friends, who are horses.
Feed My Funny Exclusives
Will Saunders is an executive producer within BBC Comedy.
Publ.Date : Mon, 02 Jul 2012 19:00:00 +0000
BBC One has commissioned a pilot of Father Figure, a new sitcom created, written by and starring the stand-up comedian Jason Byrne, to go into production early next year.
Jason Byrne plays married father Tom. He tries to be the best dad he can to his two sons, but bad luck and his extended family are always upsetting his plans. Jason will be accompanied by Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Michael Smiley (Luther) and Dermot Crowley (Bleak House).
Jason said "It's been a big dream of mine and I'd never have thought I would get the chance to join the ranks of the television sitcom world. The characters all come from real life and the outrageous situations Tom gets into have, more often than not, actually happened to me. The people in my life will never realise that it's them I'm writing about, unless my wife and two sons, mother, father and best mate ever watch it."
Publ.Date : Thu, 09 Aug 2012 07:00:00 +0000
Jocelyn Jee Esien as Beauty Olonga
Radio 4's comedy, Beauty of Britain, is about a woman called Beauty Olonga, who works as a carer and sees herself as an inspiration to other young African women in Britain. Here she tells us more about her show.
"One of the people in charge at Radio 4 asked me to tell you about my new series. She said she would do it herself only she's not very good at 'writing-ey type stuff' and she's got a wedding to go to.
"I could tell she was important because she had a little fold-up bicycle and she only goes into the office two days a week. Since coming to this country to work as a carer, I have learnt to recognise how much power someone has by how small their bike is, how long their holidays are and how much extra work they ask you to do for nothing.
"The British also expect you to compliment them on their sense of humour - like when those elderly gentlemen sang about 'My generation' on TV the other night. But I've noticed that although they like to laugh they don't want to make eye contact. I think that's why Radio 4 is such an important part of their culture.
"A lot of the elderly people I look after have a machine on the bedside table that suddenly starts playing Radio 4 at 6.15 in the morning while, at the same time, squirting them with steam and boiling tea - that fantastic sense of humour again!
"Radio 4 normally starts the day with three hours of high-status men shouting at each other. Sometimes you can hear the velcro tearing on their cycling anklets when they get really worked up. Most of my clients like to shout back at the radio, especially when a man called Gary Richardson is on. The elderly women I look after tend to get very annoyed when Kirsty Young starts talking. Personally I can't see anything to complain about with Kirsty - okay, she lost her professionalism when Morrissey was her guest but I've seen a photo of her in Asda Shopper magazine and she is the only Radio 4 presenter who takes the trouble to do her highlights properly.
"If you are an African girl working as a carer you will pick up plenty of top tips from my new series; from how to upstyle your tabard to slow-cooking carrots overnight to getting your clients seen by NHS professionals who are so young they can't write out a prescription without sticking their tongues out and moving their lips. I'd been living here for nearly two years before I learned the key to dealing with registrars is patience and understanding. Young doctors are very overworked so it doesn't help to criticise them for not knowing how to dress for their shape and for only visiting the barbers once every six months.
"But I hope there will be something useful for everyone who listens to my show. And let's face it that means all of you because how many Radio 4 listeners actually go in to work on a Friday? Exactly."
Beauty of Britain goes out on Radio 4 Friday mornings at 11.30am.
Dictated from the vintage section of the PDSA shop to Christopher Douglas and Nicola Sanderson
Publ.Date : Tue, 28 Aug 2012 09:53:42 +0000
We're going back to the Fringe!
This summer, we'll pick up from where we left off last year when all our Fringe action came together under one roof. Expect even more performances and shows from across our site on TV, on radio and online.
We're going extra mile at the Fringe this year, hosting an overnight Comedy Marathon. BBC Three will start an epic overnight journey with a specially billed, anarchic eight hour show which will go out live on the Red Button from 9pm till 5am and forms part of the London 2012 Festival.
Our tented festival village opens on Friday, 3rd August and doesn't come down until the early hours of Monday 27th August, with over a 100 shows under its belt.
Last year, our venue enjoyed hosting shows from across the BBC. Where else in Edinburgh could you have found Ricky Gervais, Mark Lawson, Sarah Millican and David Hasselhoff on the same stage? (OK, not necessarily at the same time) - in case this all passed you by, here's a video of last year's highlights:
There is so much going on across the month, make sure you don't miss anything by following @BBCEdFest on twitter and via www.facebook.com/BBCEdFest
Free tickets for all of the on-site events, performances and Masterclasses are available from BBC Tickets from Thursday, May 31. Apply now to make sure you don't miss out!
BBC Radio 1's Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw will be returning to present their spectacular Fun and Filth Cabaret, also part of the London 2012 Festival. And BBC Comedy Presents is back, showcasing the best of the Fringe with nightly shows.
Festival-goers can come together and marvel at our new big screen which will be showing the best of the Olympics live.
Radio 4 bring a host of listener favourites to the Fringe; David Mitchell will be dropping in to host The Unbelievable Truth, Nicholas Parsons and Paul Merton will rock up for Just a Minute, as will Clive Anderson for Loose Ends. Jim Naughtie is with us for a special Fringe edition of Today, and Rory Bremner's in town to host Tonight.
More Radio 4 recordings from the festival include Comic Fringes, with short stories created by popular comedians. Also, Front Row, The Horne Section, The Philosopher's Arms, Wondermentalist Cabaret, plus a new food panel show making its debut at the Fringe - The Kitchen Cabinet presented by Jay Rayner.
As well its regular stable of Edinburgh shows of MacAulay & Co and the Festival Café and in recent years Off the Ball - BBC Radio Scotland will be taking more stalwarts East including Vic Galloway and Jazz House, and as he did in 2011, to acclaim, Christopher Brookmyre will be combining comedy and books in a specially recorded series.
Radio 3 will broadcast In Tune live from Edinburgh with Sean Rafferty and Verity Sharp presenting two editions of Late Junction with live music and special features.
Radio 2's Steve Wright Show - with Patrick Kielty at the helm - will broadcast from the festival. Patrick's also hosting the Edinburgh heat of the Radio 2 New Comedy Award. And Penny Smith returns with The Radio 2 Arts Show.
There is also a chance for you to see Richard Bacon present his BBC 5live shows from the BBC venue at the Edinburgh Festival on August 22nd and 23rd with celebrity guests.
BBC coverage goes beyond the Fringe. The diversity of the Edinburgh festivals will be reflected across a range of output, including BBC Two's The Culture Show with Sue Perkins and The Review Show with Kirsty Wark. And as broadcast partner of the Edinburgh International Festival, Radio 3 will broadcast 18 live and pre-recorded concerts from the Festival.
There will be a host of other live music acts across the month, featuring special performances from world loop-station champion, Shlomo, as well as up-and-coming live music acts showcased by Vic Galloway and the BBC Introducing... team in Scotland. There will also be lots exciting things to do for families with young children.
Key events at the BBC@Potterrow are included in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe brochure, but further details of additional events including Masterclasses and Workshops will be announced in due course.
Publ.Date : Thu, 31 May 2012 16:55:00 +0000
Roger and Val Have Just Got In returned to our screens on Wednesday 8th February. Beth Kilcoyne co-wrote the show with her sister Emma, and stopped by to talk to us series two:
Beginning to write a second series of Roger & Val was like trying to get a swing-boat started: hard, which is why the man on the swing-boats gives you a push and you catch the rhythm with the rope. But there was no one outside: just me & Emma, not swinging, with 2 ropes. We began. It's a series about distraction: what do you do to get through? We decided to look at Roger being at home all day and focus his neurosis on the washing: "Val? I've got that stain out of your purple blouse" one unmemorable line I remember, as the Tribunal was pointedly ignored. We wrote and wrote, hour after hour, and got to the end, where the stain had come out of the blouse, but, hanging up to dry like a headless person, it gave Val a shock.
It was awful. Dreary. Dull. The characters didn't even sound like Roger & Val; they sounded like people doing an imitation of Roger & Val. I tried to be hopeful it had "just come out wrong", excusing myself with the fact that you can't CUT in R&V, and I'd forgotten the difficulty. But the next draft was even worse; they were now sounding labored, eg. Roger droning on that mozzarella cheese in a packet feels like a ganglion. Over-thought, turgid, flat-footed drivel, leading up to Val's decision to actually apply for the Deputy Headship and Roger opening his Tribunal mail. I couldn't understand why all of a sudden the show said nothing, apart from Roger thought the dirty clothes is an ideal environment for growing mushrooms.
At about this time my house got infested with mice; I saw one in the bathroom, which next day got caught in a trap, so I was hopeful it had been acting alone. No one would believe this if you put it in a script, but the day we handed in the first draft about the washing, I opened my own washer. There was a... thing on the rubber rim. All its fur had been hideously washed off but the tail was still on, grey, shiny, dead but for once clean, tufts of black fur skidded round it and no doubt in among my clothes, which I couldn't throw out because they were all my best ones. Aaaurrgh - visceral - on me. I didn't dare look for its eyes. I retched, and started hopping from foot to foot, stating the obvious but in a weird chant: "There is a mouse in the washer, mouse in the washer, a MOUSE!" to which my partner unwisely replied, "What's the matter? It's dead."
We really now had taken far too much time on this now-laboured Episode 1. On its final night I went to get fish & chips, in panic. When I sat down to eat, there was an alive mouse at the bottom of the stairs. It didn't even bother to run away and I didn't bother to react, because I knew what it had come to tell me: the script was awful. I just sat there, fish and chips slopping out of my exhausted, not-screaming mouth: rock bottom.
We started Episode 2 the next day, when Dave the fantastic Mouseman called to say he had solved the problem. This script wrote like a dream - zinging out from all over the place, free and alive, both characters wholly themselves, ideas toppling over each other to get in, and Val got shortlisted for the interview. Plus we introduced the over-arching story. "What a pity this can't be Episode 1 instead of that boring one about the washing" said my Mum. Of course, it was Episode 1; we had been writing Episode 0 - the characters before we got them going again. So I am grateful to that awful script now, dreadful as it was, because it was the push outside the swing-boat for Series 2. And I never saw a mouse again.
Publ.Date : Tue, 14 Feb 2012 13:30:00 +0000