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The winners of The Big Finish Comedy Playhouse Script Writing Competition are announced today, with six new audio comedy pilots due to go into production over the coming months.
The open submission competition yielded six winning scripts, and a top prize-winning team who receive a cash prize of £500 plus the inaugural Galton & Simpson Godfathers of Comedy Award (in honour of the original Comedy Playhouse writers).
The judging panel included Big Finish producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Lizzie Worsdell, writers Robert Ross and Jane Lamacraft, and performers Steve Nallon and Jessica Martin, alongside agent and producer Tessa Le Bars.
The winning entry was The Cracks Are Showing by Cy Henty and Alan Ronald, aka improv duo The Electric Head, who were delighted to accept the award:
“As a writing duo we are honoured to have our work recognised by this prestigious award. The Hancock's Half Hour scripts sit proudly on The Electric Head's bookcase of comedy influences – next to Dante’s Inferno, which inspired this particular script. We are delighted to be in the company of such a rich and wonderful history of comedy writing partnerships who have helped to shape what we do.”
Panel judge Steve Nallon described the winning script as: “A dark surreal comedy that brings joy and light to the fancy of the mind. The Cracks are Showing is an iconoclastic critique of our post-post-modernist world and its skewed cultural values. Besides, who can resist knob jokes such as ‘his genitals bounced into a nearby art gallery and went on to win the Turner Prize’? Not me.”
The five runners-up were:
Square Pegs by Jenny Devaux and Phil Butcher
Panel judge Lizzie Worsdell said: “Having grown up in the countryside, I was laughing out loud at the accuracy of this script. A feel-good, easy read about what happens when you decide to leave the shining lights of London for a slightly different, more sedate way of life.”
Golden Sands by Toby Walker
Panel judge Jessica Martin said: “An irresistible black comedy set in a rainy seaside town on its last legs. Toby Walker has created engaging quirky characters we will want to stay with as a murder mystery unfolds, threatening to hammer the final nail in the coffin of the doomed Chortle-on-Sea. The tone is set for sardonic, cryptic comedy with a hint of Royston Vasey. It’ll raise more than a chortle… a comedy classic in the making.”
Sad Sunk Rock by Tom Worsley
Panel judge Jane Lamacraft said: “What I loved about Sad Sunk Rock was how it embraced the theme of the pain of human connection and lack of connection. In the extreme conditions of a scientific research outpost on an isolated rock in the North Atlantic Ocean, a cast of oddball outcasts, including ‘a molly-coddled millennial’, struggle to find or avoid opportunities to relate. A gag-a-second script, with both laughs and emotional moments that take you completely by surprise.”
Scribbling by Amy Xander
Panel judge Robert Ross said: “In Scribbling we have the simple storyline situation of an outsider entering an established community, in order to generate ripples of effect and waves of laughter. It is populated by intriguing characters, and interesting characters, and irritating characters... but always very, very funny characters. Puns, misunderstandings, and diverse and diverting scenarios give Scribbling a sense of mature writing, and fully relatable comedy.”
Members by Jack Bradfield and Fergus Macdonald
Panel judge Jason Haigh-Ellery said: “I've been involved with comedy on stage for many years, having produced Yes Prime Minister and Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, and it's something I've always wanted to do with Big Finish. What struck me about Members was that it was a very original concept. I've always enjoyed political comedies, and enjoyed the fact that this was set in the past and brought in both historical and political aspects. This was both entertaining and incredibly funny.”
All six of the finalists’ scripts will now enter production with release dates to be announced in 2024.