BBC Comedy Festival: Jon Petrie Champions Homegrown Storytelling

The BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow was buzzing with excitement as Jon Petrie, the BBC Director of Comedy, took the stage to champion the cause of homegrown storytelling and the preservation of sitcoms. In a heartfelt and impassioned speech, Petrie announced six new and returning shows, emphasizing the need for the TV industry to focus on creating the next generation of classic sitcoms.

A Call to Save Our Sitcoms

Jon Petrie’s message was clear: the sitcom is not dead, but it needs revitalization. He pointed out that despite previous calls for more sitcom pitches, the response has been lackluster. Petrie highlighted the challenges faced by the comedy ecosystem, such as strikes, inflation, and recession, which have led to a shrinking pool of content. His call to action was for producers to take risks and create ambitious new sitcoms that resonate with audiences.

Why Sitcoms Matter

Petrie emphasized that sitcoms hold a special place in the hearts of viewers. Shows like “Gavin and Stacey,” “Only Fools and Horses,” “This Country,” and “Ghosts” have become cultural touchstones, beloved for their ability to tell relatable, engaging stories. These sitcoms bring people together and create a sense of ownership among audiences, something Petrie believes is vital to protect and invest in.

Exciting New Announcements

At the festival, Petrie unveiled plans for six new and returning shows that promise to delight audiences:

  1. Outnumbered Christmas Special: The much-loved family favorite returns for a festive episode.
  2. The Power of Parker: Greenlit for a second series.
  3. Mammoth: Also returning for a second series.
  4. Not Going Out: Lee Mack’s long-running sitcom continues its successful run.
  5. Smoggie Queens: A brand new series starring Mark Benton, set in Teesside.
  6. Funboys: Set and filmed in Northern Ireland, adding regional diversity to the lineup.

The Power of Returning Favorites

The return of “Outnumbered” for a Christmas special is particularly exciting for fans who have missed the chaotic yet endearing Brockman family. Meanwhile, “The Power of Parker” and “Mammoth” securing second seasons demonstrate the BBC’s commitment to nurturing new comedy hits. “Not Going Out,” the longest-running British sitcom currently on air, continues to draw in viewers with its sharp wit and timeless humor.

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Investing in Future Classics

Petrie announced an ambitious initiative to fund six writers’ rooms, each led by an experienced showrunner and supported by a mix of established and emerging writing talent. This investment aims to supercharge the development of new sitcoms with broad appeal. Petrie cited recent successes like “Ghosts,” “Two Doors Down,” “Motherland,” and “Here We Go” as examples of what this initiative hopes to achieve.

Audience Engagement and Viewing Figures

The BBC’s commitment to comedy is reflected in its viewing figures. Eight of the ten biggest comedies of the previous year were BBC productions, with the “Ghosts” Christmas Special topping the charts with 7.2 million viewers. Overall, 400 million hours of comedy were watched on the BBC, with 700 million requests on iPlayer.

A Night of Recognition at the BAFTAs

This year’s BAFTAs were a triumph for BBC Comedy Festival, with “Such Brave Girls” winning Best Comedy and individual accolades for Gbemisola Ikumelo in “Black Ops” and Mawaan Rizwan in “Juice.” The Short Form award for “Mobility” further highlighted the BBC’s success in diverse comedic formats.

Looking Ahead: New Comedies on the Horizon

Petrie shared a glimpse of the exciting new comedies slated for the upcoming year:

  • Daddy Issues
  • Spent
  • We Might Regret This
  • Only Child: Co-commissioned with BBC Scotland and set to shoot in Glasgow.

The announcement of a “Gavin and Stacey” Christmas special also sparked immediate interest, propelling the show back into the BBC iPlayer top 10.

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Scotland’s Contribution to BBC Comedy Festival

Louise Thornton, Head of Commissioning at BBC Scotland, expressed her delight at hosting the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow. She praised Scotland’s rich comedy heritage, citing popular shows like “Still Game,” “Scot Squad,” and “Two Doors Down.” Thornton highlighted BBC Scotland’s role in supporting both established and emerging talent, ensuring the continued success of Scottish comedy.

BBC Comedy Festival
BBC Comedy Festival

The Role of Regional Diversity

The inclusion of shows set in Teesside and Northern Ireland underscores the BBC’s commitment to regional diversity. By reflecting the unique voices and experiences from different parts of the UK, the BBC ensures that its comedy offerings are as varied and inclusive as possible.

Conclusion: A Bright Future for BBC Comedy Festival

Jon Petrie’s passionate call to save sitcoms and nurture homegrown storytelling was met with enthusiasm at the BBC Comedy Festival. With a slate of exciting new shows and a commitment to fostering the next generation of comedy talent, the future of BBC Comedy Festival looks bright. As Petrie and his team continue to champion these values, audiences can look forward to a wealth of laughter and memorable moments for years to come.


What new shows were announced at the BBC Comedy Festival?

Six new and returning shows were announced, including “Outnumbered Christmas Special,” “The Power of Parker,” “Mammoth,” “Not Going Out,” “Smoggie Queens,” and “Funboys.”

Why does Jon Petrie believe sitcoms are important?

Jon Petrie believes sitcoms are crucial for telling relatable stories that bring people together and create a strong sense of cultural ownership among audiences.

What initiative did Jon Petrie announce for developing new sitcoms?

Petrie announced plans to fund six writers’ rooms, each led by an experienced showrunner and supported by a mix of established and new writing talent.

How did BBC Comedy perform at the recent BAFTAs?

BBC Comedy had a brilliant night at the BAFTAs, with “Such Brave Girls” winning Best Comedy and individual awards for Gbemisola Ikumelo and Mawaan Rizwan.

What is BBC Scotland’s role in comedy?

BBC Scotland plays a key role in backing both established and breakthrough talent, contributing significantly to the BBC’s diverse and popular comedy lineup.

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