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The UK has a world leading comedy pedigree, but no industry recognised comedy training course - until now. The new 18 month part-time NFTS Diploma in Writing and Producing Comedy will enable students to develop all forms of scripted and unscripted comedy including, sitcoms, sketch shows, and panel shows for radio and tv. The course is run in partnership with Channel 4.
  • The world's first Diploma course in Writing and Producing Comedy.
  • Delivered in partnership with Channel 4
  • Part-time, evening course
  • Regular Industry speakers
  • Develop and write an original show and make a taster tape.

We welcome EU/EEA Students. Course fees charged at UK rate.

Application Deadline: 08 Sep 2016

Course Overview

This course commences in January each year. Students will be taught by NFTS writing and producing tutors supported by guest sessions from the people responsible for some of the UK’s most iconic UK shows including Peep Show, Father Ted, Have I Got News for You, Spitting Image, Horrible Histories and Green Wing.

The course advisory board includes:

  • Ash Atalla – The Office, Cuckoo, Trollied
  • Dawson Bros – The Peter Serafinowicz Show, That Mitchell & Webb Look, Big School
  • Sam Bain - Peep Show, Fresh Meat, Rev
  • Richard Boden – Blackadder, 'Allo 'Allo, IT Crowd
  • Gregor Cameron – Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show, Fighting Talk
  • Saurabh Kakkar – Head of Development – Comedy – Big Talk
  • Graham Linehan – Father Ted, IT Crowd, Count Arthur Strong
  • Arabella McGuigan – Smack the Pony, Brass Eye
  • Caroline Norris - Horrible Histories, The Armstrong & Miller Show, Dead Ringers
  • John O’Farrell – Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You, Novelist
  • Richard Preddy – Green Wing, Campus
  • Lucy Robinson - Co-Founder Little Comet Film & TV/Head of Comedy Brothers and Sisters
  • Helen Spencer -Salford Comedy Festival, Salford Sitcom Showcase, Jesting About
  • Lorna Watson & Ingrid Oliver – Watson & Oliver

The course is part-time (one evening a week and occasional Saturdays) over eighteen months and is delivered in central London. You will be expected to spend at least 8 hours a week working on assignments for the course. You will leave the course with a portfolio of material developed during the course, this could include a ten-minute taster tape of an idea you have developed, or a full script and some sketches and one-liners.

Specifically you will learn about:

  • Comedy landscape
  • Radio comedy
  • Sketches
  • Panel shows and formats
  • Characterisation
  • Story structure
  • Narrative TV comedy
  • Script editing
  • Topical one-liners
  • Outlines and treatments
  • Pitching
  • Commissioning processes
  • Working with performers
  • Compliance issues
  • Working with writers
  • Writing briefs

Students graduate able to:

  • generate comedy programme ideas
  • write or produce a narrative comedy, sketch show or comedy entertainment show
  • pitch ideas to commissioning editors
  • work with writers and help them develop their ideas

So you think you’re funny? Apply Now!

SCHOLARSHIPS AND BURSARIES

The NFTS want to encourage applications from the brightest and best talent out there….from all backgrounds. We are actively seeking to redress imbalances within the Industry by encouraging applications from under-represented groups, and have bursaries of £4650 on offer to 2 of the successful candidates. Bursaries will be awarded to stand out talent who can demonstrate that without this funding they would not be able to afford the course, or who can demonstrate they bring a unique and distinct perspective and voice to the course.

Curriculum

The course is made up of a number of modules and workshops, you learn by ‘doing’ as well as understanding theory and developing a variety of practical and creative skills.

Module 1: Writing and producing sketch shows
 A sketch needs a premise, a core funny idea that is its reason to exist. As soon as a sketch begins, the audience looks for this premise and it needs to be apparent. You will learn how this works by writing sketches for different shows and getting feedback on them from established sketch performers and producers.  You will have your material read by experienced sketch performers, and the chance to have your material performed for an invited audience.

Module 2: Topical one-liners, formats and panel shows. Topical one-liners for Have I Got News for You, The News Quiz and other topical shows is often the entry point for writers.  You will learn by a mixture of practice, theory and feedback, the basics of writing topical jokes. You will learn how to develop your own format or panel show idea. 

Module 3: Radio Comedy 
Many comedy writers and producers have worked in both television and radio with many shows starting out on radio and moving to television. It is the entry point for many established comedy writers and producers.  You will develop and test your skills by developing material for Radio 4 and pitch ideas to radio comedy producers.

Module 4: Writing/Producing an existing sitcom 
You will learn about writing for a situation and a bunch of characters that already exist, concentrating on pitching appropriate story ideas to the creators of those shows. You will also learn about script editing and how to give notes.

Module 5: Writing a TV narrative comedy 
You will develop an idea for a television narrative comedy (sitcom), pitch it, and write the first draft of a script. 

Module 6: Graduation project 
Working on your own, or in a pair, you will develop a sitcom, comedy drama or sketch show for TV or radio. You will write one episode, and either shoot a taster tape or have some scenes performed by professional actors or produce a radio show. 

NFTS BENEFITS

Comedy course participants will have full access to the NFTS’ optional creative stimulus strands, including: Passport to Cinema (weekly screenings of classic and pre-release films in the state-of-the-art campus cinema); and NFTS Masterclasses (major creative figures from film, television and games screening their work and discussing with students in the campus cinema. Recent speakers include Graham King (producer, Hugo, The Departed), Guy Ritchie (Director, Sherlock Holmes), Danny Boyle (Director, Slumdog Millionaire) and Ian Livingstone (former President and CEO, Eidos).

Tutors

Many of the people on the course advisory board also teach on the course. In addition the course is supported by Channel 4 commissioners and executives.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have comedy talent and have evidence that bears this out.

Applicants do not necessarily have to have a university Bachelors degree to apply for the course, but must be able to: demonstrate a knowledge of television/film; provide details of past achievements; demonstrate a clear focus for their future ambitions; and, crucially, show a passion for comedy.

If you are not an EEA National, you must already be in possession of a UK visa valid for the duration of this course.  We are unable to accept your application if you do not.

Apply With

  • Two TV or radio sketches of no more than 400 words each. One of these should be set on a space station. 
  • An outline for a comedy series, no more than 600 words
  • A joke suitable for HIGNFY or 8 out of 10 Cats host script for 2 specified news stories (full details on the materials sheet when you apply). ALTERNATIVELY write a third sketch (400 words max). 

How to Apply

You can apply directly to us at the NFTS by clicking on the link below:

When selecting your course, please ensure that you have read the entry requirements and details of the supporting materials that should accompany your application.

Timing your application

We are happy to receive applications 24/7 and 365 days a year up until the deadline. That said, there is no particular advantage to submitting your application very early. The important thing is that your application shows us your latest work and tell us about your most recent filmmaking experiences.

  • 18 Month Course
  • Part-time
  • Course starts in January
  • Next intake: January 2017
  • UK and EEA applicants only

"If you are considering a career in comedy, then the NFTS is a fast track for acquiring those career sustaining skills.”
Phil Clarke, Head of Comedy, Channel 4