Wednesday, 18 June 2008

My Priorities for Comedy

TO: Corporation Comedy Unit; All Key Comedy Suppliers; Armando Iannucci; Jimmy Mulville; Ash Atalla
CC: Perry Mansell; John Thoday

Hello everyone.

I thought it would be a good time to outline a couple of thoughts regarding Comedy and the Youth Channel for Spring 2009.

We've had some amazing successes in this area over the last couple of years, but I am worried that we're a little bit niche when it comes to this part of the schedule.

Are we too "cool" for our own good?

Lucy Lumsden and Simon Wilson are doing brilliantly in this area, but they, like me, are also very keen for us to open up comedy on the Youth Channel to a new, bigger, more accessible (and perhaps a little less bright) audience.

Whilst our core audience is - and always will remain - the hard-to-reach PSP-obsessed Bebo-committed 10-17 age group, perhaps we can catch their 32-45 year-old parents, friends, colleagues, uncles, older friends and family if we chime the right chords??

Fawlty Towers did hotels, Only Fools and Horses did market trading, Dear John did bedsits, Open All Hours did corner shops and The Office did offices. So what are the new spaces where we spend our work, leisure and private times? Where are we going to find the new Del Boys, David Brents, Arkwrights and Basil Fawltys?

Don't forget the power of the red button in all of this. How can we make the audience at home BECOME the audience in the comedy venue? And where is the new Dennis Pennis coming from? They can't all be up in Edinburgh!!

I think there is also room to create a new comedy genre: the "reality comedy". Imagine for a moment Mike Leigh and Stephen Lambert (RIP) locked in a room with just some paper and pencils for an hour. What would they create? What kind of wicked characters and situations would come out of that meeting?

With the goodwill of Myfanwy Moore and Richard Klein I want the finest reality producers to sit down with some of our most ambitious comedy talent to develop ideas that blend these two brilliantly popular genres. Only on this channel could we invest and support such a dynamic partnership. Throw in a cool up and coming house band and we'll be cooking with gas.

I will call this exciting new hybrid: Drama-dy™

Talent - both on-screen and off, is a major thing we care about here. I want to ensure that under-represented people get a fair chance to develop and hone their skills within the Corporation on My Channel.

So where are the disabled or lesbian (or both!?) comic talents?? Where are the next Ash Atalla's coming from? What is happening with the underground yet hugely funny area of blind comedy? Is that genre ready for youthful, mainstream audiences yet? And what exactly can we do (or not do possibly) with deaf and/or albino talent??

Look, just go out there and have some fucking fun. Be brave, and be bold. My team are eagily awaiting your Dramady™ ideas.

Best wishes


Friday, 13 June 2008

My new suicide documentary

I was delighted to spend 20 minutes of my time this morning with the lovely Melinda Messenger and a group of unwashed Fleet Street hacks briefing them about our forthcoming campaign about suicide and young people.

Fuck off Stephen Fry, and your 'depression and me' crap on Corporation Snooze 2. Here on the Youth Channel we have more immediate ways of doing this kind of shit!

Melinda authors the series, and goes on a personal journey into the dark world of suicide.

I am thrilled at the heavyweight yet light and, dare I say it, very "itchy" way we've made this series. I have to hand it to Bertie for saving this project in the fucking edit. Well done my man from Notting Hill!

All kinds of problems hit us: characters not showing enough "emotional reaction" to Melinda's interview technique; tears at the wrong time; a lack of meaningful exchanges with loved ones (Bertie needed four reshoots to make the edits work)... but anyway, the most important thing is I am happy with the final outcome.

Talking of which, I am delighted about the EPG impact factor of the series title:

"MELINDA MESSENGER: IN SEARCH OF THE FINAL COUNTDOWN"!! [Cue the theme tune - we've licensed Europe's song "The Final Countown"!!]

The boys in scheduling and marketing have pulled a blinder on this one.

Bold, ambitious, brave and as fucking "shouty" as you could get!!! The kids will kill themselves if they miss it (joke)