BBC says its latest comedies are not funny enough

bbc says its latest comedies are not funny enough

Sitcoms which once dominated the BBC comedy slate included Gavin and Stacey

The BBC has warned that sitcoms are dying as executives say its current comedies are not funny enough.

Bosses say that the broadcaster has “oversupplied” new comedy dramas which touch on worthy subjects but are lacking in jokes.

The BBC has announced that the classic sitcom needs to be saved as programmes in the style of Only Fools and Horses are “what audiences want to see”.

Executives have launched a new initiative to revive the format and will offer financial support to find “the next big UK sitcom with broad appeal”.

The announcement by Jon Petrie, the BBC’s director of comedy, comes following a period dominated by comedy dramas, often with a heavy focus on mental health.

Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow, Mr Petrie said: “If our comedy eco-system is shrinking, then it’s on all of us to fight for the right of UK mainstream comedy to exist.

“The sitcom isn’t dead but it needs a couple of Berocca. And a black americano with two sugars. We’re asking you to do something really ambitious and help save our sitcom. It’s what audiences want to see.”

He also explained that “the editorial direction we want to travel in” is now “firmly sitcom first, with a high joke rate”.

Recent commissions in the wake of the BBC Three hit Fleabag have included series like Ladhood and Alma’s Not Normal.

Such programmes are far from the sitcoms which once dominated the BBC comedy slate, including Only Fools and Horses and, more recently, Gavin and Stacey.

Mr Petrie said the BBC intended to once again aim for mass appeal with its comedies, which remained popular favourites long after they were broadcast, giving them far greater shelf-life.

He said: “The BBC has always been the place for homegrown comedy hits that people want to come back to again and again.

“We want you to take the risk, go for the big rewards, and create the next generation of classic sitcoms and immortal characters that audiences will keep returning to for decades to come.”

As part of this strategy, Mr Petrie has announced the return of Lee Mack’s long-running show Not Going Out and a Christmas special for Outnumbered.

He added for prospective writers: “Please send us less shows that are ‘an exploration’ of something and more that know where their funny bones are. We want less ‘vital pieces’ and ‘comfort baths’ and more ‘toe-curlingly funny’, ‘gleeful’ and ‘laugh out loud’.

“Comedy drama will always have its place, and we’re really proud of our slate. But we are oversupplied with them.”

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