BBC Comedy get Digital - Their changing audience and the pledge to support British Comedy

Sunday, July 11, 2010



Two years ago, on realizing that the BBC's strategical plans didn't include Comedy, Will Saunders, executive Producer for Online at BBC Comedy helped with the task of shaping Comedy for the British future.

At a recent talk by Will at June's KittenCamp, it seemed that there were 2 main focal points that were most influential in the BBC's strategy. Both are online-related.


BBC Comedy's Untapped Audience

There's a huge generation of the British population who look for their comedy everywhere but on UK sites - on YouTube and US comedy destination sites such as Funny or Die, College Humor and The Onion. Most are snippets - short, easy-to-consume snacks of comedy. Comedy on TV has traditionally been series-based whereas on the Web, you can get your laughs in 30 seconds without needing an understanding of the characters. The US comedy destinations have attracted such a huge following that TV networks are now taking an interest and migrating the web snippets and series into TV shows.

This is the path that BBC Comedy have seen as a natural transition for the talent and ideas that they've been nurturing the past year. One such example is the way Broken Biscuits has evolved from snippets into Big Babies - a popular show on CBBC and iPlayer.


Discovering New Talent

Where else do people show off their talent (apart from on Britain's Got Talent) than on the internet? BBC Comedy has been trawling the dark depths of the internet to find and support the best new film-makers, animators, comediens and musicians. They commission their own ideas and provide grants for new talent to show what they've got.

Here's our current favourite:


Misery Bear

The cuddly toy who has the worst luck ever. Here's the latest and most topical - World Cup FAIL.


Take a look at their newly launched website. As their mission statement professes, BBC Comedy is "the place for the finest British comedy from the past, present and future". They have clips from old school favourites such as Black Adder, The young Ones and Only Fools and Horses as well as more recent programs and are paving the way for a new generation of hilarity. In addition, it appears that their views on licensing content is changing. All the content on BBC Comedy is available to view globally. I'm also pretty sure they'd be flattered if the public started mashing up their content. My one word of advice is don't touch Top Gear, Eastenders or Doctor Who - they're still rather precious about those series.


Although I'm not sure the BBC has got it totally right yet (for example, taking content that was made for YouTube and polishing it up has given a lot of the videos too much of a constrained feel) it's definitely on the right track. They have highlighted the best of British inventiveness and brought it into the public domain, providing opportunities for showcasing talent where there were few before.