Writing and Producing Comedy



BBC Comedy BBC Studios

This unique 18-month part-time Professional Diploma in Writing and Producing Comedy aims to enable students to develop all forms of scripted and unscripted comedy including sitcoms, sketch shows and panel shows for radio and TV.

"If you are considering a career in comedy, then the NFTS is a fast track for acquiring those career sustaining skills.” Phil Clarke, Former Head of Comedy, CH4.

The course is run in partnership with BBC Comedy.

Students will hear from regular industry speakers and get the opportunity to develop and write an original show and make a taster tape.

Since the course started in 2014 several students have gone on to write professionally in radio and television. One student, Laura Major, won a year long Bursary at BBC Radio. Six former students have been commissioned to write regularly for Dead Ringers, and others have been invited to attend the writers’ rooms at The Now Show and The News Quiz. Several projects written during the course have been optioned by TV companies, and at least one has been commissioned as a script. Two students have gone on to write and produce a sketch show for Comedy Central and several others have had material accepted by TV, including The Mash Report.

All NFTS students can attend Masterclasses. Recent guests include David Fincher (Fight Club), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Ben Wheatley (Free Fire), Rapman (Blue Story), Louis Theroux, Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Sam Mendes (1917), Asif Kapadia (Senna), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and Ricky Gervais (The Office).

Recent credits and successes

LAUGH stock photo

"I genuinely feel much better equipped to write comedy professionally - before the course I had no idea how to structure a sitcom episode, cut 95% of the lines in my sketches or cope with the social embarrassment of no one laughing at my jokes!"  Rebecca Heitlinger, 2020 graduate

What you will study

Writing and Producing Comedy commences in January each year. 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 eight hours a week working on assignments for the course. You will leave the course with a portfolio of material, which could include a 10-minute taster tape of an idea you have developed, or a full script and some sketches and one-liners.

Students are taught 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
  • create a narrative comedy, sketch show or comedy entertainment show
  • pitch ideas to commissioning editors
  • work with writers and help them develop their ideas

Download course outline (PDF)

Course Leader

The course is run by Rachel Stubbings, a BAFTA nominated writer, director and performer, specialising in comedy. Her writing credits include 8 Out Of 10 Cats (C4), Mock The Week (BBC2), The Last Leg (C4), Trollied (Sky) and The Athena (Sky) to name but a few.

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home/EU/EEA £8,500 (for January 2022 intake)

This course is only open to UK and EU/EEA applicants.

A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place.

Students are expected to provide their own laptops.

The NFTS is actively seeking to improve diversity within the industry by encouraging applications from under-represented groups, and have a limited number of bursaries on offer


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 an EEA or International citizen, you must already be in possession of UK settled/pre-settled status or another visa which allows you to study for the duration of the course. If you do not already hold a UK status, unfortunately we cannot accept your application as we are currently unable to support a visa on our Diploma courses.

If you have any questions, please email info@nfts.co.uk.

How to apply

Application deadline: 08 Sep 2022

Applicants must complete the online application form and submit the following supporting materials:

  • Please submit, in one document, two TV or radio sketches of no more than 350 words each. Write for any of the following shows: That Mitchell and Webb Sound, Tracey Ullman Breaks the News, or Smack The Pony. Do not use characters or ideas already established on those shows. You can choose a different well known sketch show if you prefer, but please indicate which it is.

  • An outline for a comedy series, no more than 300 words.
  • Please write a joke/punchline suitable for HIGNFY or 8 out of ten cats host script for 2 of the news stories listed in the materials sheet.

You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below. We are happy to receive applications at any time up until the midnight of the application deadline date.

Begin your application