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Sky Studios and Birmingham Rep announce eight finalists for new comedy talent scheme: Sky Comedy Rep

  • The partnership, now in its second year, aims to discover and develop new comedy writing talent from across the UK.
  • Over 400 aspiring writers applied.Eight of these now begin a six-month paid programme to produce a one-act comedy play.
  • Some of the UK’s best comedy writing talent including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Liam Williams, Morwenna Banks, Laurence Rickard, Nathan Foads, Danielle Ward, Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Paul Doolan set to mentor new writers over six months.
  • Tickets are on sale from today for the live premier of all eight plays which takes place at The Rep in May 2023.

Sky Comedy Rep, the new talent partnership between Sky Studios and Birmingham Rep, today announced the eight new comedy writers who are about to embark on a six-month paid training programme to develop a new piece of work, mentored by some of the UK’s best comedy writing talent.

Following the success of the inaugural Sky Comedy Rep scheme in 2021/22, over 400 applicants pitched for the final eight available places in 2022/23. This year’s brief was to submit a sample of a one-act play set around the simple premise of Proposal in the Park. After scrutiny by the selection team from Sky Studios and The Rep a group of new writers hailing from across the UK - Salford, Stoke-on-Trent, Durham, Manchester and Birmingham - made the final cut.They will now further develop their plays with guidance from this year’s mentors who are today announced as Sanjeev Bhaskar, Liam Williams, Morwenna Banks, Laurence Rickard, Nathan Foads, Danielle Ward, Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Paul Doolan.

In addition to providing training, mentoring and a professional showcase, Sky Comedy Rep is already providing new British comedy writing talent with a springboard into the industry.As a result of the work developed and performed at The Rep earlier this year, a number of 2021/22’s cohort of writers have gone on to develop projects for Sky Studios and a range of other producers and broadcasters.

More detail about the process and an introduction to the writers can be found below in Notes to Editors.

The writers will meet in Birmingham next month at a workshop led by Iqbal Khan - Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony Director, Tartuffe (RSC and Birmingham Rep), and East is East (Birmingham Rep) – and Madeleine Kludje, Rep Associate Director and Talent Development lead (Grimeboy, Birmingham Rep).

The overall scheme was established and is led by The Rep’s Artistic Director, Olivier Award-winning Sean Foley (The Play What I Wrote) and Sky Studios Creative Director of Comedy, BAFTA Award-winning Anil Gupta (Goodness Gracious Me, The Office).

Anil Gupta said: “Last year’s success and the brilliant work we were witness to at the showcase made it clear that the Sky Comedy Rep is here to stay. At Sky Studios and The Rep we have forged a pipeline which is already channelling excellent comedy talent into this industry. Our new crop of writers hail from all over the UK and have already demonstrated exceptional creative, comedic talent. Sky Studios is proud to work with them as they start out on their careers, and we look forward to a future of discovering and unlocking still more talent for everyone to appreciate and enjoy - live and on TV.”

Sean Foley added: “I am incredibly excited to help these eight brilliant comedy writers take their first steps in this amazing industry.Developing and nurturing new talent is central to what we do at The Rep.Last year we saw and heard the work of a brilliantly talented and diverse group of creatives who reflected all manner of backgrounds from around the UK, with an especial focus on those under-represented in our industry.The extraordinary response to their work meant that there was no hesitation from our side in making Sky Comedy Rep a regular and dynamic event in our calendar. I can’t wait to see where this year’s writers will take us and themselves!”

The writers’ programme culminates in a live staging with Sky Comedy Rep presents Parklife: A Festival of New Comedy Writing in May 2023 and will feature up and coming actors and emerging directors meaning that this really is new work and raw creativity in its purest form.Tickets are available now here

This year’s mentors are:

Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, is the award-winning writer and actor behind Goodness Gracious Me, and ‘The Kumars at No 42’

Liam Williams, a stand up, writer and actor, Liam is the creator of Ladhood, Pls Like, as well as being one third of acclaimed sketch troupe Sheeps

Morwenna Banks, award-winning actor, writer and producer Morwenna is currently writing Sky’s Funny Woman (out early 2023), alongside Damned, and Slow Horses.

Laurence Rickard, writer and star of the historical sketch show Horrible Histories, Laurence has gone onto be the co-creator and writer behind Yonderland and Ghosts.

Nathan Foad, writer, comedian and actor originally from Newark-on-Trent, Nathan has written on The Young Offenders, and is the creator of Newark, Newark.

Danielle Ward, writing credits include Brassic, Mongrels, Not Going Out, and Idris Elba’s In the Long Run.

Daniel Lawrence Taylor, creator, writer and star of Timewasters, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA for best scripted comedy, and won the 2018 Royal Television Society award for Best Breakthrough

Paul Doolan, the writer & co-creator behind Trollied, as well as writing for Bloods, Cuckoo, and Top Coppers.

This year’s writers are:

Tom Critch

Tom describes himself as a cack-handed Salfordian scribe with ideas way above his station, and wholly unreliable ankles. He is winner of the David Nobbs Memorial Trust competition and winner of Best Comedy at the Portobello Film Festival. Comedy has always been in his blood, which shows you how lackadaisical the NHS can be sometimes.

Doug Crossley

Doug is a writer and performer, originally from Stoke on Trent. Past recognition includes being a finalist for the Mercury Weinberger playwriting prize, and winning a place on the BAFTA Rocliffe Forum List for his original sitcom, Fairies. He can often be found performing improv comedy on a house team at The Free Association in London.

Alice Etches

Alice Etches is a writer, actor and comedy performer. She has written for several series across TV and Radio, and was a finalist in the David Nobbs Competition 2018, Funny Women writing awards 2019,and BCG’s Yellow Door competition 2020.

Alice is currently working on a number of short films, and sitcom scripts. Her character skits and sketches can be found on Instagram @aliceetches

Aoife Kennan

Aoife is an actor and writer. She grew up in Durham, but identifies as Irish and has the passport to prove it. She was recently on the Royal Court Writers Programme and has developed work through Masterclass Script Sessions. Her new play, SCRATCHES (a funny show about self-harm) was showcased at new writing nights at the Jermyn Street Theatre and will show at VAULT Festival in 2023.

Mahad Ali

Mahad was part of BBC Studios Writers Academy 2021, where he worked on continuing drama series Eastenders, Holby City and Casualty. Also a part of the inaugural Tamasha Theatre Playwriting group, Mahad performed at Stratford Theatre Royal Stratford East, Rich Mix, Park and Soho Theatre’s with Tamasha and Paines Plough.

Currently Mahad’s is passionate about developing TV comedy/drama ideas which share the fun, joy and pain of the Black British African experience.

Georgie Morrell

Georgie Morrell is a comedian, writer, voiceover artist and award-nominated actress, who hasperformed at various fringe festivals across the country including Great Yorkshire, Guildford and Leicester, along with three solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Georgie has written for the Metro and The Huffington Post. She has also featured in Time Out magazine and is an ambassador for the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC).

Hattie Soykan

Hattie Soykan is a queer comedy writer who grew up with four cats, two rabbits, and a whole lot of existential dread in a tight-knit Muslim community in Manchester. She began her career at BuzzFeed where she wrote funny articles about pop culture and social commentary and has dabbled in writing sketch comedy at Soho Theatre. These days Hattie lives in London, with just one cat and a healthy sprinkle of leftover existential dread, where she writes stories centred around culture, sexuality, and identity.

Asia Wray

Asia is a writer and poet hailing from Birmingham. Her work has featured on billboard campaigns for SPK ABOUT IT (I Want to Run at Night) and Open Media (International Women’s Day). Her career ambition is to tell powerful stories that is reflective of the world around her. She describes this experience as a ‘full circle moment’, having left the city ten years ago.


About Sky Studios

Sky Studios brings to screen unique stories from the very best talent in Europe.

We develop, commission and produce original drama, comedy and documentary for Sky’s 24m customers and beyond. Building on the success of critically-acclaimed Sky Originals including Emmy-winning Chernobyl, Bafta-winning Patrick Melrose and international hits Das Boot, Gomorrah and Gangs of London, Sky Studios is the new creative home of Sky Originals, such as Funny Woman, A Town Called Malice, Unwanted, Helgoland 513 and Mary & George.

We’re an agile Studio, seeking out the best untold stories from new voices while working in creative partnership with today’s best writers, producers and on-screen talent to bring viewers stories they wouldn’t find anywhere else.

With commissioning talent and production capability across the UK, Germany and Italy, we understand local tastes across Europe better than anyone else and have plans to more than double our investment in original content by 2024, fully supported and backed by Comcast NBCUniversal.

We’re also developing a new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which is expected to lead to the creation of over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK creative sector in the first five years alone.

About Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Birmingham Repertory Theatre is the only producing theatre in the UK’s Second City.

The oldest building-based theatre company in the UK, The REP has an unparalleled pioneering history and has been at the forefront of theatre in this country for over 100 years. It is a registered charity (number 223660).

The REP’s mission is to create artistically ambitious popular theatre for, by and with the people of Birmingham and the wider world.

The commissioning and production of new work lies at the core of The REP’s programme and over the last 15 years, the company has produced more than 130 new plays. As well as presenting over 60 productions on its three stages every year, the theatre tours its productions nationally and internationally. The REP’s acclaimed learning and outreach programme is one of the largest and most diverse of any arts organisation in the country. Every year we have over 70,000 contacts with young people and adults in the community on projects from drama or writing workshops to large-scale productions. The REP is also committed to nurturing new talent through its youth theatre groups, and it offers training for early career writers, directors, and artists through its ground-breaking REP Foundry theatre makers programme.

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