Sky Studios and Birmingham Repertory announce final writers for Sky Comedy Rep

Thursday 16 September 2021

    • Partnership between Sky Studios and Birmingham Repertory Theatre aims to discover and develop new comedy writing talent from across the UK
    • Over 750 people applied, with eleven writers now starting the six-month paid programme
    • Further mentors confirmed for the scheme include Holly Walsh, Emma Fryer, Robin French, Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling

Sky Comedy Rep, a partnership between Sky Studios and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, today announce they have selected eleven writers to take part in the scheme that aims to discover and develop new regional comedy writing talent from across the UK.

Over 750 aspiring comedy writers applied for the Birmingham-based scheme by sending a sample of a one act play set around the simple premise of a meeting on a park bench. The chosen writers, who come from Bradford, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, London and South Wales, will now go on to develop their one act plays though a six-month paid programme of workshops and mentoring.

Their mentors will be some of the best comedy writers in the business, including Holly Walsh (Motherland, The Other One) Emma Fryer (Home Time) Robin French (Cuckoo), Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Timewasters) and Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling (Breeders, Hitmen) who will join the likes of Meera Syal, Simon Blackwell, Danny Brocklehurst and Guz Khan as mentors on the scheme, with Dame Julie Walters as Patron.

The writers met in Birmingham for the first time over the weekend at a workshop 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), who oversee the initiative.  

Anil Gupta, Creative Director of Comedy at Sky Studios, said: “We were overwhelmed by the response to this scheme and the strength of talent we saw in the applications. We have found eleven truly exceptional writers who hail from all over the UK, and whose unique voices tap into the humour of where they are from. They have exciting futures ahead of them and Sky Studios are proud to be helping them on their path.”

Sean Foley, Birmingham REP Artistic Director said: “I am incredibly excited to help these nine brilliant comedy writers take their first steps in this fantastic industry.  Developing and nurturing new talents is a cornerstone of everything The REP does and it is especially thrilling to see such a diverse group of individuals, hailing from  backgrounds and from all over the UK. These writers have very promising futures ahead of them and I cannot see where their journey will take them”. 

The programme will culminate in a live staging at the three-day Sky Comedy REP Festival at The REP early next year, featuring up-and-coming actors and emerging directors. 

Notes to Editors 

Media Contact    

lauren.cameron@sky.uk / +44 (0) 7817157798

About the new writers

Jingan Young, London

Jingan writes for stage and screen. A devoted fan of the rom-com (Meet-cutes! Miscommunication! Unattainable, meticulously curated lifestyles!), her admirable attempt to write one - No 2 Daughter - is currently in development with Greenacre Films. She spearheaded and edited the BESEA play collection ‘Foreign Goods’ published by Oberon Books. Meeting those writing and teaching deadlines often involves late night dumpling feasts. 

Ashfaq Gorsi, Manchester

Ash is an Actor & Writer from Manchester, or at least that’s what he tells his mum! He is currently performing for The Northern Comedy Theatre in a UK Tour ‘All Above Board’ written by British comedy Legend Nigel Planer. Ash spent two months in LA taking acting classes and looking for Will Smith. He began writing his daily musings in a journal, that led to writing two short films. The self-proclaimed Curry Kid is said to be #KeenAsMustard to be creating art on stage. In his own words ‘Who needs Shakespeare when you’ve got Shafiqspeare.’

Ryan Walker-Edwards, Birmingham

Ryan describes himself as just a normal guy from Brum. As well as writing, Ryan's acting work includes 'The Archers, Doctors, Uncertain Kingdom: Sucka Punch', and has recently been commissioned by BBC Arts to write and produce two short radio projects. Outside of all that good stuff, Ryan co-founded an electronic music platform Incognito Radio. 

Rob Carter, London

Rob Carter is an actor/comedian based in London, who is looking to irritate purists and add ‘/writer’ to his bio. He has performed as his alter ego - a dreadful writer called Christopher Bliss - at the Edinburgh Fringe, Soho Theatre, on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and making spoof film reviews for Amazon Prime. Winner of the Musical Comedy Awards and finalist at the BBC New Comedy Awards, Rob also won Best Foreign Short at the LA Comedy Festival for his first short film The Raisin.

Drew Vida Marke, London

Drew is a writer from London who developed a passion for make-believe worlds after one too many trips to Disney World. After therapy to ween her off that mouse-ear magic, she turned her only-child energy to writing, which she did alongside a corporate job. But at a certain point, she decided that writing brought her the kind of joy that an open plan office (albeit with free coffee and pastries) did not. She has been selected for Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting, the BFI’s Best of Year list, the BBC hotlist and won a Film London Borough Award.

Ed Amsden & Tom Coles, Leighton Buzzard and Westcliff-on-Sea

Ed Amsden & Tom Coles are a comedy writing partnership whose broadcast credits include Dead Ringers and The News Quiz. Their career ambition is to write authentic television sitcoms with a distinct working class voice, and they're thrilled to be involved in this exciting opportunity.

Mari & Lowri Izzard, Bridgend South Wales

Actor/Writer duo Mari & Lowri Izzard are identical twins hailing from working class roots in Bridgend, South Wales. Whilst filming together on comedy feature “Brian & Charles” (Film4/BFI), Mari & Lowri realised they actually really enjoyed working together! This is the duo’s first (official) writing collaboration together. 

Kat Rose-Martin, Bradford

Kat’s glittering career has taken her from being a papergirl in Buttershaw, to a girl surrounded by scribbled paper plotlines in another part of Bradford, not even 10 minutes away in the car - if the traffic’s good. On the way she’s performed at Shakespeare’s Globe, written for Holby City; attended an LA writers room from the comfort of her bedroom (thanks Zoom!) and had her foot run over by a golf cart when doing promo work for dairy free butter.

About Sky Comedy REP 2021

Selected writers were asked to submit sample pages for a short, one act comic play. This year each play will be based around the simple premise of a meeting or situation that develops around a Park Bench.  That’s it. Could be anyone, anywhere, anytime. But it has to be funny.

The selected writers will now enter an intensive Writer Development Scheme which will develop their initial idea and hone their writing talent. 

Each writer will be allocated an experienced mentor who will work with the writers in one to one sessions to develop their ideas. 

The new writers will get the opportunity to participate in masterclasses; workshops and table reads with actors and directors. This development will be based at Birmingham REP, with guidance throughout from both Birmingham REP and the Sky Studios Development team.

Fleabag, Chewing Gum, The League of Gentlemen - all started as live performance. Having your work performed in front of an audience is the best way to answer the ultimate comedy question – is it funny?

The scheme will culminate in a live staging at the three-day Sky Comedy REP Festival in March 2021. The festival will consist of a programme of events including three short plays per evening, performed in the 300 seat Studio Theatre at Birmingham REP.  A special ‘Repertory Company’ of actors will come together under the direction of emerging directing talent to perform the plays in front of an audience.

About Sky Studios

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

We develop, produce and fund 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, Riviera and Britannia, Sky Studios is the new creative home of Sky Originals, such as The Third Day with Jude Law, I Hate Suzie, co-created by Lucy Prebble and Billie Piper and BAFTA-nominated hit comedy, Brassic.

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.

Sky Studios invests in the cultural economy and global production sector with equity stakes in several production companies in the UK and the US, including Great British Bake-Off creator Love Productions, and the premier reality crime producer in the US, Jupiter Entertainment, creator of long-running hit Snapped. Sky Studios has invested in high quality factual specialists Blast! Films, True North Productions, and Transistor Films; natural history producer True to Nature; drama producers The Lighthouse and Longboat Pictures; and growth businesses Sugar Films, Chrysalis Vision, and Talos Films (US).

Sky Studios launched in June 2019. The senior leadership team is Chief Executive Officer, Cécile Frot-Coutaz, Chief Content Officer Jane Millichip, Chief Operating Officer Caroline Cooper, Director of Commissioning, Drama Gabriel Silver, Director of Comedy UK Jon Mountague, Director Original Production Sky Studios Italia Nils Hartmann, and Director Original Productions Sky Studios Deutschland Marcus Ammon.

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.

Many of The REP’s productions go on to have lives beyond Birmingham. Recent tours and transfers include The Lovely Bones, Brief Encounter, Nativity! The Musical, What Shadows, LOVE, The Winslow Boy, The Government Inspector, Of Mice and Men, Anita and Me, Penguins and The King’s Speech. The theatre’s long-running production of The Snowman celebrated its 25th anniversary as well as its 22nd consecutive season at London's Peacock Theatre in 2019.

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