Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Sitcom Trials

We’d like to break with our normal (relatively) academic focus to say ‘good luck’ to Dean Hardman, a member of our research group and lecturer in linguistics. It turns out that Dean is ‘a bit of a comedian’ (although this is usually used as an insult hurled at unsuccessful criminals by middle-aged cops on dramas like Ashes to Ashes).

Last summer in an idle moment after completing his PhD, Dean decided to enter a competition called The Sitcom Trials. With an established pedigree and operating as a showcase for new comedy writing talent, The Sitcom Trials invited aspiring comedy writers to submit a treatment for a sitcom. This call produced over 500 entries. Then 32 fifteen-minute scripts were selected to be performed live at the Leicester Square Theatre, London. Dean was one of the 32 writers selected.

Dean’s treatment for his script – From Riga to Rotherham – tells us that it ‘follows the fortunes of immigrants Marian, a Latvian who has moved to Britain to realise his dream of competing at the Olympic games, and Patience, a Nigerian hair stylist who wants to be closer to her family who have already settled in the UK. They find themselves living in shared accommodation with Jay, a British man who makes ends meet by working in the local tourist office. We see the social quirks and oddities of Britain through their eyes. In this first episode, Patience and Marian arrive in Rotherham before Patience discovers that her mother is to visit and that she needs a boyfriend-and fast. Is there anyone who could take on the role?’

To be honest, we were fairly surprised that Dean achieved this much in his first attempt at comedy writing (we are, at heart, a fairly cynical bunch). We knew he was funny but…. We were a little more surprised when he came into work on 5th March saying that his sit-com had been performed the previous night, that he’d won his heat and that his script had been received enthusiastically by professionals from the broadcasting industry.

Tomorrow night, From Riga to Rotherham features in the quarter finals of the competition. We wish him the best of luck from the cultural studies team (although we are increasingly believing that he might not even need luck). We'll keep you updated on his progress but you'll be able to find out more quickly here.

1 comment:

  1. As I recall, this script was written AS - not after - Dean was writing his Ph.D. Well this ranks as one of the most productive procrastinations of all time. All the best from Liz M.