01 July 2013

How not to make a BBC sitcom

So there I was … sat in a comedy exec's office. My pilot was to begin shooting in a few days' time and I was worried it no longer resembled the show it was meant to be. The sitcom was about a northern pub. A carvery on a Sunday lunchtime. The twist was that you never saw the bar, you just went from table to table where different groups of people had different problems.

But suddenly it was nothing to do with me any more. I felt like a spare part while decisions were being made without me. It had been youthed-up, dumbed-down, two episodes had been merged into one, characters had been removed because they were deemed "not part of the BBC3 demographic" and one producer actually wrote a few bits himself. Oh, and now you always saw the bar.

Back in the room, the eyes of the exec went wide. An idea! He touched his nose with a finger. And spoke:

Him: "You know what's really popular right now?"

(A fearful silence from me)

Him: "Vampires!" (his hands make an "offering" gesture)

Me: "Right…"

Him: "Do you think we could bring in a supernatural element?"

Me: "It's a pub."

I knew at that point that not only was my show doomed, but that I never wanted to work in TV ever again.

- John Warburton, 'TV commissioning is just a bad joke', Guardian, 30 June 2013

See also:
Comedy: 'Friday Night Dinner', 11 April 2011
Comedy: 'My Name Is Earl', 12 May 2008
Comedy: 'Lab Rats' & 'Teenage Kicks', 4 November 2007
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