Show Me the Funny!

Posted on: Thursday 01 July 2010 1:20pm

Can UK Kids’ Comedy Compete with Hannah, Carly, and Jonas? Speakers: Steven Andrew, Head of Production, CBBC Laurence Bowen, Co-founder, Feelgood Fiction Debbie MacDonald, VP, Programming Director, Nickelodeon UK Alison Warner, VP, Distribution, Cookie Jar Entertainment Andy Watts, Writer Hehehe, cinema two was overflowing: people had to be turned away. But they found me a special chair because I am The Blogger! I think that’s what they called me. So…..can UK Kids’ Comedy Compete with Hannah, Carly, and Jonas? The general consensus was YES. BUT US comedy is BIG BUSINESS while the UK’s is a cottage industry. Should we make our characters aspirational (shiny, successful celebrities)? Lawrence moved My Life As A Popat across the Atlantic to become My Life As A Lopez. Despite developing a terrific pilot when push came to shove in the commissioning rounds, it was deemed too ‘character based’: there was just not a big enough hook. Summer in Transylvania has a massively hooky hook – Elaine described it as “I-Carly with Fangs and Fur.” Debbie agreed: they deliberately set out to make something that proved to the Americans we can do it too and for less money. Go us. But it’s worth remembering that there are other markets beyond the US who love what we do. Genie in The House didn’t ‘go west’ but has sold in 100 other territories. Steven said we should be proud of our own culture and develop the stories that we want to tell. He also said we should invest more in our writers. I love Steven. He also said it’s sensible to invest in cast earlier. But did I mention he said invest in writers? The overall feeling was that really what is important is that we have UK comedy for UK kids. As Anne Brogan so brilliantly said from the floor – the central problem is that the UK broadcasters don’t spend enough money. We have the talent and the comedy traditions to appeal internationally. Characters don’t have to be aspirational to be successful but they do have to be ones who make kids feel better about themselves!

regular 2010 thursday2010