Jesting About! Was a multi-platform initiative aimed at finding the next generation of North East jesters, set up in partnership between Northern Film and Media and BBC North/BBC Vision North. Designed to unearth new talent to create comedy for the Corporation’s television, radio and online offerings.
From the 200 entries, 24 individuals were taken forward for development opportunities.
Chosen candidates varied from BAFTA award-winning film-maker Bridget Deane (Channel 4, Wife Swap) from Newcastle to friends Dave Metcalf, Jamie McLeish and Andrew Kirkwood from Sunderland, who by day were two civil servants and an assistant accountant, respectively, as well as Newcastle actors Trevor Fox and Joe Caffrey, who were supported to create a half-hour radio sketch show for BBC Newcastle and BBC Tees.
The successful applicants were selected by a panel of BBC commissioners and creative leads including Jon Mountague, executive producer BBC Comedy North, Martin Trickey, commissioning executive BBC Comedy Multiplatform, Will Saunders, executive producer BBC Comedy and internationally renowned writer Ian La Frenais (Porridge, Likely Lads, Auf Weidersehen Pet).
Over the course of two months, the successful applicants received seed corn funding, mentoring, workshops and support from industry experts including Bob Mortimer, Ross Noble, Ian La Frenais and Susan Nickson to help develop their ideas into pilots.
Bob Mortimer said: "When I launched Jesting About in December last year, I said that some of the funniest people I have ever met are from the North East and judging from the hundreds of comedy ideas, scripts and sketches that have been sent it seems that I was right. There's been a great response and now it's time to get down to business and turn the ideas into reality."
All candidates were supported to produce their work for a final Jesting About showcase which took place in Newcastle on 20th April 2011, giving commissioning editors a real flavour of local talent and putting a spotlight on North East as a centre for new comedy.
Successful candidates spanned the North East region, including submissions from Gateshead, Guisborough, Newcastle, South Shields, Stockton on Tees, Sunderland and Whitley Bay.
TV Team Writing – developing a pilot script for a BBC One sitcom:
Karen Laws (Newcastle)
Bridget Deane (Newcastle)
Keith Brumpton (Newcastle)
Paul Christian (Preston, studied in Newcastle)
Christopher Stanners (Newcastle)
Radio – creating a half hour radio sketch show for BBC Newcastle and BBC Tees:
Gavin Webster (Newcastle)
John Scott (Newcastle)
Holly Burn (Newcastle)
Dave Metcalf, Andrew Kirkwood and Jamie McLeish (Sunderland)
Rob Gilroy (Gateshead)
Nitin Kundra (Newcastle)
Trevor Fox and Joe Caffrey (Newcastle)
Will and Owen Cooper (Newcastle)
Nick Lewis (Whitley Bay)
James Harris and Ben Klimmeck (Guisborough)
Alex Collier (Sunderland)
Claire Storey Lambert representing Dene Films (Newcastle)
Lee Fenwick (South Shields)
James Boughen (Stockton on Tees)