Nic Wright

BBC search for top teen comedy talents

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The BBC have begun a search for new comedy talent in the country’s secondary schools.

The Comedy Classroom competition will give 13 to 15 year-olds across the UK the chance to have their work made and broadcast by the BBC this autumn.

A collaboration between BBC Learning, BBC Comedy and the National Literacy Trust, the winners will also have a chance to visit the BBC to see it filmed and receive a Comedy Classroom trophy, a signed certificate and a visit from a BBC Comedy comedian to their school.

Some of the UK’s top comedy talent, including Charlie Higson, Kerry Howard, Marcus Brigstocke and David Walliams, are aiding the search in partnership with the National Literacy Trust.

There are three categories are:
• Class Joker – Stand-up. Students can turn their personal observations and views of the world into a written and performed stand-up comedy routine.
• Class Act – The Sketch. Write your own unique sketch and bring to life funny ideas and characters.
• Class Comic – Clever Captions. Find the funny in the image and write a comedy caption.

David Walliams is giving his backing to the competition by starring in online film resources that explain to teachers and their classes more about each category and what is required.

Walliams said: “We all love to laugh, and we all love a competition. The BBC’s comedy competition is where your class of comedians can share their comedic ideas with the nation.

“I was 12 when I first started writing and performing comedy sketches in my school. They were simple spoofs of TV shows at the time, but immediately I discovered that there’s no better feeling in the world than making people laugh.

“So whether your class is full of budding performers, or they’re bursting with brilliant ideas for new comedy sketches, BBC Comedy Classroom is for you and your students.”

As well as David Walliams, Charlie Higson, Marcus Brigstocke and Kerry Howard, the competition also has support from the likes of comedians Katy Wix (Not Going Out) and Citizen Khan star, Adil Ray, who have contributed to a teachers’ resource pack, as well as top BBC comedy producers and writers.

Head of BBC Learning, Sinéad Rocks, says: “We want this competition to provide a fun and inspiring way to engage students by helping them find the funny side of literacy and by demonstrating how literacy is the bedrock of good comedy and comedy writing.

“We hope it provides some great laughs in classrooms across the UK, as well as giving students the opportunity to produce some fantastic entries.”

The National Literacy Trust, alongside the BBC, has produced bespoke and flexible classroom learning resources and activities to help make it easy for teachers to integrate the competition and comedy writing into lessons. These 60-minute lessons are drawn from the curriculum requirements for literacy and build on key reading, writing and speaking skills.

Jonathan Douglas, Director, National Literacy Trust, said: “Our research shows that young people don’t enjoy writing as much as they enjoy reading. We believe that introducing them to comedy writing can change that. Comedy harnesses many key writing skills to create laughs and can be a great asset in the classroom.”

Details of the competition, along with the David Walliams’ films and teaching resources, are available at with schools being able to submit entries from 19 April.

The closing date is 24 July, with winners announced in November. The competition is open to schools students in Years 9 and 10 in England and Wales, Years 10 and 11 in Northern Ireland and S3 and S4 in Scotland. There will also be a special Comedy Classroom Live Lesson streamed into classrooms on May 12.

BBC Comedy Controller Shane Allen, says: “While this competition might uncover the next generation of brilliant comedy writers and performers the main aim is for everyone taking part to have fun and learn about some of the techniques that make great comedy.

“There is a great sense of original thinking and authorship in creating comedy as it often involves playing with language, concepts and a degree of lateral thinking. Lots of big name comedy talent are really engaged in this and promoting the joy of learning through laughter.”