BBC Salford Sitcom Showcase

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On Friday night I attended the second year of the  Salford Sitcom Showcase at the BBC Studios in MediaCity. A colleague from my masters course had managed to secure extra tickets, and even better the tickets belonged to the gold wristband brigade.

The gold wristband brigade are looked after, something that “cheap seats” moi was not used to. And of course made the most of the corporate hospitality (darling!).

I enjoy the thrill of being in the audience, whether it is at a concert, theatre or in television studios. As I write this, I will be attending the Celebrity Mastermind recording tomorrow night which reinforces my audience geekness.

The Salford Sitcom Showcase is an event for the BBC to platform six theatrical presentations of new potential sitcoms to local audiences and to the industry professionals. I do believe that Citizen Khan was picked up at one of these showcases last year.

The first sitcom was called Chain Gang and was written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley who wrote together on Little Britain and Spitting Image. More recently they wrote the international box office success Gnomeo and Juliet. The log-line for Chain Gang is “At Sunbeans every macchiato is served with a smile…apart from one branch in Bristol, where it’s more likely to be emptied over your head”. The premise for the show is that the execs at Sunbean send in the wimpy Alistair, fresh from management training to turn around the Sunbeans branch lazily run by the ruthless Natasha, who sleeps with musicians by telling them that she works for a record label.

I really enjoyed this pilot episode, especially Paolo, a camp, Brazilian who spends his working day at Sunbeans on his blackberry – and that’s not the flavour of muffins either. Paolo was played by Stefano Braschi and I could easily see him being the lead character in this show if it did get commissioned as he was far more likeable than Natasha. A gag about him cleaning his cock-ring in the milk steamer had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.

The second production was called Homeboys and was written by Pete Jackson, who had a stint of acting with Ant and Dec on Byker Grove. I found this show started off very strong, lots of laughter and characters were set up almost immediately in their first scenes.

David and Brian are Homeboys; 20 something brothers still living at home, despite their parents’ best efforts to get rid of them. David and Brian are total opposites, David is a cocky salesman, and Brian is a recluse who spends his time under the kitchen table in a homemade bar.  The lovely Pauline McLynn from Father Ted and Shameless series starred as their quirky mother and for me she stole the show as she helped David to trick his boss into thinking that he was going to make a killer sale in damp-proofing.

Afterwards, myself and my peers were introduced to a few people who were involved in the production. I spent half an hour chatting to Pauline aka Mrs Doyle from Father Ted who was the most delightful and friendly person I could have met.

Afterwards, it got me thinking to my own goals that I have with the writing. Maybe one day it will be a script by me that has made it onto the shortlist for a live performance – who knows?

But, one things for sure, I definitely could get used to having priority seating, access to the actors, all you can drink wine and platefuls of fancy nibbles.

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