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The BBC New Comedy Awards are back on TV and open for entries

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The nationwide talent search is on the hunt for the best new stand-up comics and for the first time in the show’s history there will be two new categories, Young Comic (under 18’s) and Digital Comedian which is looking to unearth the funniest people making content online, whether they’re making short social videos or longer sketches, short films or animations.

Continuing the BBC’s commitment to finding and nurturing new comedy talent, the awards aim to inspire a new generation from all backgrounds to get involved in comedy. The competition will be travelling across the UK holding six regional heats airing on BBC Three, BBC One and BBC iPlayer culminating in the final on BBC One later this year.

The BBC New Comedy Award is a prestigious stand-up competition with longstanding heritage. First established in 1995, it has helped build and nurture the careers of some of Britain’s most loved comedians including Peter Kay, Joe Lycett, Lee Mack, Julian Barratt, Josie Long, Shappi Khorsandi, Romesh Ranganathan, Alan Carr, Russell Howard, Nina Conti, Lost Voice Guy, Tom Allen, Lauren Pattison and Sarah Millican to name a few.

Originally created for BBC One, it has been a hugely successful BBC Radio 4 competition since 2011 but this year the awards will make a high-profile return to TV – across BBC One, BBC Three and iPlayer with support from BBC Radio, BBC Sounds and our social platforms.

Shane Allen, Director of Comedy says, “The wealth of comedy talent in these shores is one of our greatest assets and exports but everyone needs their break. Covid-19 took the wind out of comedy’s sails for a while and we want to spearhead the commitment to bringing the laughter back. In varying our approach, we hope to engage and inspire the next generation of comedy talents on and off screen through opening the doors ever wider to different voices from all over the UK.”

The BBC Comedy Association have also appointed a Young People’s Comedy Laureate, Mawaan Rizwan. His role will be to champion comedy as an art form, and to engage and inspire new talent to start writing and performing. Mawaan will hold this position for a year and will oversee a number of projects, including shaping and informing the outreach programme in schools, spearheading the under-18 category of the New Comedy Awards, and curating the inaugural BBC Comedy Festival.

Mawaan will also be the Head Judge for the New Comedy Awards and will be joined at each location by a different panel of local celebrity judges who will select a winner from each heat to make it to the final show. Each regional heat will be compered by a top local comic.

Mawaan Rizwan says: “I’m so flattered and honoured to be the first Comedy Laureate. I never thought I’d be associated with the word ‘laureate’ – my parents are actually impressed for once. The bit I’m most excited about is finding the next generation of comedy talent who wouldn’t otherwise get a shot at this. There are still so many under-represented voices and I can’t wait to hear from them!”

Shane Allen, Director of Comedy says: “The Young Persons Comedy Laureate position signals our passionate belief that comedy stands up there as one of the key pillars of our cultural identity and in Mawaan we have the perfect ambassador. He is a fast rising star who pioneered his way across many platforms, starting from very humble beginnings to get to where he is today.”

Lindsay Jex, producer at Phil McIntyre Television says: “It’s an honour to produce these prestigious awards and to be working with such a proactive and passionate team at the BBC, all committed to increasing comedy’s talent pool to reflect the UK as a whole. These awards are the ultimate foot in the door for aspiring comics and that’s why it’s so exciting that the search has expanded to include under-18s and digital comedians. At Phil McIntyre Television, we are dedicated to supporting grassroots talent both on and off screen and are delighted to offer a number of trainee roles to young people from under-represented backgrounds on the production. We hope this new wave of British comedy talents will take the world by storm”.

The BBC New Comedy Awards is a Phil McIntyre Television production commissioned for BBC Three and BBC One by Shane Allen, Director of Comedy at the BBC and Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three. The producer is Lindsay Jex, and the executive producer is Lucy Ansbro. The Commissioning Editors for the BBC are Ben Caudell and Harriet Murdoch.

To read more on the criteria for entering and to apply for the awards please follow this link where you’ll also find the Terms and Privacy Notice. Entries close at 11:59pm on 15 August 2021.

Further information about the awards and transmission details will be announced in due course.