BBC Comedy commissioning in partnership with BBC Writersroom and BBC North are delighted to announce the Caroline Aherne Bursary 2018.

The inaugural bursary scheme in the memory of the late Caroline Aherne was launched last year at the Salford Sitcom Showcase. Aimed at writer/performers, the bursary will award £5,000 to the successful applicant to enable them to fund future development, alongside the guidance of an experienced BBC commissioning editor.

Sophie Willan, 2018 Bursary winner, says: “Winning the Caroline Aherne Bursary has opened up so many doors and put me on the map not only as a stand up, but as a comedy writer and actress as well. I’ve met some amazing people, worked on some incredible TV and radio projects and I’m now developing my own sitcom script! It’s a brilliant scheme that honours Caroline and truly supports new talent.”

Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “The first year has worked so well with Sophie in seeing her profile and experience rapidly grow to the point where we’re on course for a sitcom project. The Caroline Aherne Bursary is an extremely effective way to fast track a career in comedy for someone and a special way to remember and celebrate the legacy of someone audiences cherish very dearly.”

What are we looking for?

In the spirit of Caroline’s work we are on the lookout for the next generation of character comedians. We want to find, develop and support great comedy talent who have the ability to speak to the whole nation. If you can invent characters that make us laugh out loud and can tease an audience to come back for more, then we want to hear from you! We’re looking for dynamic characters that radiate a northern authenticity – writer-performers who reflect modern Britain with voices that have not yet been heard; original comedy talent that’s just bursting to get on our screens.

What’s in it for you?

  • A £5,000 bursary from BBC North and BBC Comedy to support development of your work
  • A mentorship with a BBC Comedy commissioning editor to develop a comedy script
  • Support and access to comedy training sessions with BBC Writersroom
  • You’ll get to perform at the Salford Sitcom Showcase 2019!

What to submit

You will need to submit a link to filmed content of either one minute of one comedy character; or two minutes of multiple characters, along with a brief biography of your work to date. Your character(s) must have the potential to develop in to or be linked to a sitcom idea.

We are not looking for high production values! The content can be filmed on a mobile phone as we’ll be judging this purely on the strength of the character and quality and humour of the writing and performance.

If you have a great idea for an original sitcom or short form idea then we’d also like you to submit a synopsis (2 pages max). This is however optional.

The deadline for entries is 10am on Monday 5 November 2018.

Please submit via the Writersroom E-submission system.

Terms and conditions of entry

Caroline Aherne Bursary Terms & Conditions

  • To be eligible to enter The Caroline Aherne Bursary you must meet the following criteria:

    a) You must be aged 18 years or over on 4 October 2018
    b) You must not be employed by or a live-in partner or immediate relative (i.e. mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, nephew or niece) of somebody employed by the BBC, by a BBC Group company or any person connected with the Caroline AherneBursary or in a financial relationship with them

    Proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested. The BBC’s decision as to the eligibility of individual entrants will be final and no correspondence will be entered into

  • Entrants must submit:

    a) A URL link to filmed content – this should be one video file of you performing either one minute of one comedy character; or two minutes of multiple characters. Your character(s) must have the potential to develop in to or be linked to sitcom ideas
    b) A brief biography of work to date including a short description of your video content submission (max one page). This should be saved as one PDF file of no more than 10mb in size
    c) A synopsis of a potential original sitcom or short form idea – this is optional. If you do choose to submit an idea it must be saved in the same PDF file (max two pages) of no more than 10mb in size.
    d) A Caroline Aherne Bursary application form which can be completed via the Writersroom e-submissions system when the submission window is open.

    Your application must be legibly typed and formatted and written entirely in English

    If the URL link is password protected, please provide the password in the NOTES section of the application form

  • The BBC will only ever use personal details for the purposes of administering the scheme. Personal details will not be passed to any third party without your prior consent. Please see the BBC’s Privacy Policy
  • Applications must be submitted via the BBC Writersroom e-submissions portal
  • The Closing Date for entries is 10am on Monday 5 November 2018
  • Writer-performers can submit individually or as part of a team of up to a maximum of two people. If entering as a group, all entrants must meet the entry requirements. Only one entry per person is permitted including any group entries. If a team entry is selected the Bursary will awarded to the group not per individual

    Unsuccessful entrants will only be notified if they clearly state their email address on the application form. No feedback on any entry will be provided

  • All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. The BBC accepts no liability if entrants ignore these rules and entrants agree to fully indemnify the BBC against any claims by any third party arising from any breach of these rules
  • All entries and anything developed as part of this scheme must be suitable to be broadcast/published by the BBC
  • Entrants retain the copyright in their original ideas but on being selected will grant to the BBC a licence to broadcast, reproduce or read out their entry or any further development work arising from their submission across all media, as well as use it on any online platforms on standard prevailing BBC terms (as agreed with the Writer’s Guild, Society Of Authors and Personal Managers Association)
  • By applying for the scheme, entrants warrant that they have legal capacity to enter the scheme and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions
  • All entries will be judged on the following criteria:

    a) The originality of the comedy video content
    b) The strength of the character
    c) The quality and humour of the writing and performance

    In addition, there will be a second stage for the shortlisted entrants – they will be notified of the details of this upon making the shortlist.

  • Entries will be judged through the following process:

    Stage One
    All entries will be reviewed by a panel of experienced comedy readers and BBC Writersroom staff, who will assess and discuss the applications against the criteria outlined above and select a longlist

    The BBC reserves the right not to read the candidate’s application if it is in breach of any of these terms and conditions

    Stage Two
    The shortlist will be reviewed and considered by the writersroomproducers and comedy commissioning team

    Stage Three
    Final selection will be made by members of the BBC Writersroom and BBC Comedy Commissioning team. They will assess the entries with the intention of selecting one entrant for the Bursary and development

  • The entry from writer-performer(s) that is selected as the winner will be awarded a £5,000 cash bursary (“the Cash Bursary”) which shall cover the fee payable to the writer (or co-writers where there is a team entry) in connection with writing and otherwise developing the script, and an exclusive licence in the format, throughout all stages of the development process (or as otherwise agreed), and which shall be payable to the writer or shared equally where there are co-writers on an entry. In addition the entrant will receive a development mentorship with BBC Comedy Commissioning to develop the pilot comedy script. The terms of any such writer engagement, format licence and payment of the Cash Bursary shall be subject to the standard prevailing BBC terms (as agreed with the Writer’s Guild, Society Of Authors and Personal Managers Association) (“BBC/WGGB Agreement”), which will be set out in a separate agreement with the writer/s. They will be paired with a commissioning editor to support them in this development; and will be invited to appear at the Salford Sitcom Showcase 2019. They will also be offered support and access to comedy training sessions with BBC Writersroom. Unless otherwise agreed by the BBC in advance and in writing, no further payments shall be due to the writer, including without limitation any and all expenses and travel and other costs incurred by the writer, in connection with the development work

    The award must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred or transferred

  • The names of the shortlisted entrants and any entrant whose entry is commissioned or used online will be made public. Entrants must agree to take part in any post-scheme publicity if required
  • The BBC’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • The BBC reserves the right to disqualify any entry which breaches any of these terms and conditions
  • The BBC reserves the right to disqualify entries that are inconsistent with the BBC Editorial Policy Guidelines or which may bring the BBC into disrepute, including any entries which profit from criminal activity
  • Writers currently serving a term of imprisonment in the UK and/or with unspent convictions are ineligible for entry
  • The BBC reserves the right to cancel or alter the scheme at any stage, including members of the judging panel if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside its control. In this event, a notice will be posted on the following website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/
  • The BBC reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions at any stage, including changing or substituting the selection process and the development opportunities. In this event, a notice will be posted on the following website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/
  • If the submitted filmed content/sitcom idea has been through a development process with a production company, agent, training scheme etc. then this must be declared on the submission
  • These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales
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