Unfortunately I couldn't make it to the meeting, but I've been sent a rundown of what was covered (they have also updated the web site to feature new script templates and details of the new segment 'Number Crunching' which replaces Viewsjack (Hooray!)
Once curious thing mentioned in the brief is the following:
"We get a lot of left leaning sketches in, or sketches that attack the right. Attacking the left would be good – but make sure it’s for not being left enough!"
It seems to be saying the only area immune from criticism is the left. Now I know satire inevitably tends to be more left than right, but this seems to be not even trying to be objective and neutral. Perhaps it's the leftist communist pinkos at the BBC we've been hearing all about.
Co-produced the last series of Newsjack and recently produced The Now Show on BBC Radio 4.
He has also devised and co-produced the BBC Radio 2 show Listomania, hosted by Susan Calman, and has previously produced the BBC Radio New Comedy Award and Comedy in Radio 1s Live Lounge.
Abby is a recent addition to the BBC Comedy department. Previously she had worked at various indies, including Youngest Media and Tiger Aspect, mainly working within development teams across all genres from scripted to reality and entertainment. Whilst at Youngest Media she was part of the team that devised comedy entertainment format Game of Clones, soon to be seen on E4. Before this she was involved in the development of series two of Murder In Successville at Tiger Aspect.
Angela Barnes is the brand new host of Newsjack! Angela has a great track record in stand up comedy – having previously won the BBC Radio New Comedy Award and now a regular presence on Radio 4s flagship topical panel show The News Quiz.
You may have also seen Angela on your TV on Mock The Week or as a regular on Channel 4s Stand Up For The Week…
"I'm beyond chuffed to be the next host of Newsjack. As a self-confessed lifelong radio comedy nerd, I don't think 'dream job' is too strong a phrase.”
In terms of notes from the briefing – we are still looking for you to write Angela’s sketch intros – she describes her comedy as wry and self-deprecating so please keep this in mind when you’re drafting her intros.
Like last series, the cast is different each week this time – a mixture of performers who were great during previous series plus some exciting newcomers. This may be subject to change, but if it does then we’ll announce it via our twitter account: @newsjackBBC
Here are the first three weeks of cast members for this series…
George Fouracres Freya Parker Jason Forbes
Daniel Barker Celeste Dring Joe Barnes
Luke Kempner Cariad Lloyd James Meehan
We’re introducing a new feature for this series –Number Crunching…
Angela’s monologue (she writes this herself, so don’t submit material for it)
3 x Breaking news sections – these are the topical one-liners
The sketch sections are split into the following categories:
* Arts & Entertainment
* Business & Economy
* Science & Technology
* World News
You will also need to write an intro to each sketch that Angela will read out to introduce the sketch.
The following is the maximum amount of material you can submit each week:
3 Number Crunching One Liners
3 Breaking News One-liners
Number Crunching (replaces Viewsjack)
That's right, Viewjack is out and Number Crunching is in. This breaks down the weeks news into a series of funny statistics. Coming at the end of the show it will use numbers to illuminate the big issues…
The format is very simple – the first statistic is the set up and the second is the punchline. We envisage this as a great way of finding different angles and stories for the show, so think imaginatively (and topically)!
Examples: 4: days per week Nigel Farage’s new radio show is on the air. 0: days per week Nigel Farage will turn up to work.
Over one quarter – the number of Parisians who have group sex. Over three quarters – the number of Londoners who have Groupon.
24: hours the tube lines were closed due to industrial action. 58 million: people who don’t live in London who couldn’t care less.
4: hours the NHS guarantees you will be seen in A&E. 4: the number of letters Jeremy Hunt believes are in “A&E”.
1: number of times Boris Johnson has met with Donald Trump’s advisors. 16: number of times Boris Johnson insisted he wasn’t the UK’s Donald Trump Tribute Act.
10: years since the launch of the iPhone. 10: minutes my current iPhone battery lasts.
Submissions As usual the submissions are to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please use the template that’s on the website.
Questions were raised about runners / preferences / general tips.
It’s difficult to know / focus on a certain style at this stage. If you feel strongly about something working as a runner, do break with the rules and let us know. (If you feel strongly about your material only working as a runner, an extra page on top of the sketch limit won’t kill us).
You will be able to get an idea of what we like through which clips are made available online for each episode.
Writers meeting happens on the Monday.
We’re inviting a mixture of people that have worked on the series before, and new people who’ve submitted material before as non-comm writers.
We’ve been in contact with some of you already and have booked up the first couple of episodes for the writers room, but we’ve deliberately left the last three episodes open so we can get writers that are emerging through in to the room.
As well as updating you with the cast, the Newsjack twitter site will be used to give hints and tips to what we liked / wanted more of. It will be very much for the writers as well as the audience, so keep your eyes peeled. Our Twitter handle is @NewsjackBBC
* Look at obscure stories; don’t always cover front page news.
* Have a point of view and stick to it.
* Our show transmits on a Thursday night – so you should be very wary of using news from the previous week. By time of transmission, stories from the previous Thursday or Friday can feel quite out of date. Many writers advocate thinking of ideas but using the Sunday as a writing day if possible.
* We’re trying to be more satirical than topical – go deep – what are you trying to say
* We get a lot of left leaning sketches in, or sketches that attack the right. Attacking the left would be good – but make sure it’s for not being left enough!
* One way to get an original take on an idea is by altering the setting of the story
* Don’t change the story. Change the character / setting / time / whatever, but don’t miss the point of the story, and indeed what you’re making fun of.
* Beware of stories which are already funny on their own and your sketch isn’t really adding any extra jokes.
* Plan your sketches before you write them. Think of a beginning, middle and end. Know what your angle is, then fill with jokes.
* And really fill it with jokes. Every line of dialogue. Ram them in.
* Extra writer tips from Gabby, one of our Contract Writers, that weren’t mentioned in the meeting but we thought we’d add them to this document:
* Look through the news at the weekend for stories to use, especially on a Sunday night or Monday morning if you have the time to then. The sketch deadline’s Monday at noon, but the show doesn’t go out until Thursday, so the fresher the story the better. Unless it’s a massive story, if it happened any earlier than Saturday I treat it as old news.
* Don’t just look at the big political stories, lots of people are going to be doing sketches about those and they’re not going to broadcast two sketches about the same story. I find going through the Science, Environment & Tech sections particularly useful, as well as Arts & Entertainment. Last series we were also noticeably low on Sports sketches, so that’s worth having a crack at, even if you don’t know much about the sport in question, as long as you
can find what’s funny about the story. I know very little about horse racing, but one of the Newsjack sketches I’m proudest of is in the form of a horse race commentary. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016c4yn
* Good sketches are joke lead. If it doesn’t at least one joke per line (or one short line that’s a set-up followed by a punchline) then it’s going to die. Newsjack’s recorded in front of an audience of about 200, your sketch has to have them laughing out loud throughout.
* Be as brief as you can. Make your point in as funny a way as possible, and then get out quickly. I aim for sketches to be under 3 pages. Chances are, if it makes it through, it’ll be cut to under 2 pages anyway.
* Write a short introduction for the host. Introduce the story, add a quick joke, set up the sketch and you should be away.
* Remember that there will always be a cast of 2 women and 2 men. You’ll be surprised how many sketches we get with 5 people in, or 3 characters that have to be played by men, or sketches where there’s one woman who’s just there to feed lines to the male voices. We’ve got some brilliant female talent on the show, and the producers are going to want material that makes good use of them.
* Know how your sketch is going to end before you start writing it. You need to go out on a strong punchline or funny twist, it helps to have the backbone of the sketch planned out first so you can get the structure right. It’ll save you a lot of staring at a three page sketch wondering how the Hell to make it stop. I speak from bitter experience here.
Extra extra writing tips:
* Decide on the angle or point of the sketch before you write it and make sure everything in the sketch serves that point.
* Try not to go down the obvious route with a news story. If you have an idea, it might be worth searching Twitter to see if the same idea has already been told by 1000 people on there already. If it has, then it’s probably a good idea to think of a less obvious joke.