Sunday, 30 September 2012

Great Sci Fi Sitcoms: Hyperdrive

The Sitcom Trials presents Great Sci Fi Sitcoms of Our Times: Hyperdrive



Hyperdrive was a British television science fiction sitcom series, written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, shown on BBC 2 in 2006 and 07. Set in 2151 and 2152, and starring Sitcom Trials alumnus Miranda Hart, and star of one of the Trials' earliest successes Kevin Eldon, it follows the crew of HMS Camden Lock as they stumble through their heroic mission to protect British interests in a changing galaxy.

And appropriately enough, it's in Camden itself that you'll get the chance to prove how much better a job you could do of creating the great new science fiction sitcom. On Weds Nov 28th The Sitcom Trials presents a Sci Fi Special at the Camden Head in London, and you are invited to submit a script now.



As always scripts are invited to the Sitcom Trials format of a 10 minute opening act ending in a cliffhanger with a short payoff scene. We then perform the sitcoms up to the cliffhanger, the audience votes for their favourite and only sees the ending of the winner.

With this being a Science Fiction Special, we will be taking advantage of our "radio style" presentation, encouraging writers to tailor their sitcom entries for radio production. This enables you to include any special effect you can imagine, as long as they can be incorporated into the dialogue or very simple sound effects.

Writers are invited to upload their scripts to the SitsVac Files, where you will also find the guidelines regarding style, cast numbers etc. The deadline for uploading scripts is midnight Sat Nov 4th.

These scripts will then be voted on online by anyone who wishes to participate. The deadline for voting is Sat Nov 17th. The London team will then choose two or three of the most popular scripts to perform as part of the show, the other items in the show being created in house.

So if you want to have your sci-fi sitcom tested in front of a live paying audience, get on board now and enter The Sitcom Trials. Any questions, please ask at the Sits Vac Forum, or the British Comedy Guide Forum, or the Sitcom Trials Facebook page.

Kev F Sutherland
Producer
The Sitcom Trials

Oct 19 - Halloween Sitcom Trials, Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
Oct 20 - Halloween Sitcom Trials, Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
Nov 28 - Sitcom Trials Sci Fi Special, Camden Head, London

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bristol Trials meeting Sun 30 - actors wanted

(from Bristol Sitcom Trials producer Vince Stadon):

Hello!

On 21 March 1829, the Prime Minister challenged a political opponent to a duel.  




The Duke of Wellington (now PM of Great Britain and Ireland) met his rival, Winchilsea, on Battersea fields. When it came time to fire, the Duke took aim and Winchilsea kept his arm down. The Duke fired wide to the right. Accounts differ as to whether he missed on purpose; Wellington, noted for his poor aim, claimed he did, other reports more sympathetic to Winchilsea claimed he had aimed to kill. Winchilsea did not fire, a plan he and his second almost certainly decided upon before the duel. 

Afterwards, they went for tea and tried to settle their differences through discussion.  But almost immediately they fell into a heated quarrel and broke into a fist fight.  Both men were forcibly ejected from the tea shop by the proprietor who had no idea who they were.  

The next meeting of the Bristol Sitcom Trials team will be at the Oxford pub, Oxford Street, Totterdown, on Sunday 30th September at 3pm (though given the pub staff's charmingly lackadaisical relationship to time, it might be 3:15 or something before the doors are opened, and we'll all be stood outside, huddled up in warm coats and passing the time by sharing our favourite Mitt Romney gaffes).  

We'll be reading the five sitcom scripts which will form the next show at the Wardrobe Theatre on Friday 19th October. (Tickets on sale now!)   This will be a special, spooky and macabre Week-And-A-Bit-Before-Halloween-show, featuring zombies, werewolves, stitched together monsters, and diabolically evil people.  And that's just the cast.   

We'll be looking to cast the 23 characters in these scripts, so the more actors we have, the better.  So if you're at all interested in being in the special, spooky and macabre Week-And-A-Bit-Before-Halloween-show, featuring zombies, werewolves, stitched together monsters, and diabolically evil people, please be there if you possibly can.  It will be lovely to see you.  

Kind regards,

--Vince




You are invited to vote in the Halloween Sitcom Trials script selection - deadline Sept 29th - and to enter your scripts for the Sci Fi Sitcom Trials - deadline Nov 4th. All entry and participation is free. Join us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Our very own Cuckoo

Having watched and to a degree enjoyed BBC Three's Cuckoo starring Andy Samberg & Greg Davies last night, I was immediately reminded of The Sitcom Trials' very first success, which was with its very own cuckoo-in-the-nest sitcom.


The BBC Radio Theatre recording of the cuckoo-in-the-nest sitcom Come Together, nee Yikes It's Jesper. Left to right: Ben Miller, Melanie Hudson, Arabella Weir, Kevin Eldon

Yikes It's Jesper was a sitcom created by the first incarnation of The Sitcom Trials, Situations Vacant, way back in 1997. Written by Kev F Sutherland and Ken Elkes, including a character created by Inbetweeners creator Iain Morris, then a student at Bristol University, and with a title coined by stand-up James Dowdeswell, Yikes It's Jesper featured a foreign student who befriends a girl on a backpacking holiday then follows her home and becomes, like the eponymous Cuckoo, an unwanted house guest.

The Bristol SitsVac team team wrote and performed two episodes of Yikes Its Jesper on stage at The Bristol Flyer, after which a script was sent, blind, to BBC Radio. We immediately received a phone call from BBC producer Jon Rolph who simply said "yes, I think we can do something with this." So it was that, 12 months later and with some significant changes, not the least of which being the removal of Iain's character which he no longer wanted in there, the pilot episode was recorded, under the name of Come Together, in front of a studio audience at the BBC Radio Theatre.


Left: our BBC radio producer Jon Rolph. Right: Arabella Weir, Ben Miller and co-writer Ken Elkes enjoy after-show drinks

Starring Ben Miller, Arabella Weir, Melanie Hudson and Kevin Eldon, Come Together was a well received pilot that, sadly, never got commissioned as a series. Meaning the BBC had to wait nearly 15 years before finally getting round to having a cuckoo-in-the-nest / foreigner-met-on-a-backpacking-holiday sitcom of their own.

An audio recording still exists, and once I can work out how to digitise an old-school cassette tape, it may well find itself online. Likewise the video of the original Bristol SitsVac performances are on a VHS tape somewhere. World, don't hold your breath.




You are invited to vote in the Halloween Sitcom Trials script selection - deadline Sept 29th - and to enter your scripts for the Sci Fi Sitcom Trials - deadline Nov 4th. All entry and participation is free. Join us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

How do I vote in The Sitcom Trials?

A question we're often asked is "how do I vote in The Sitcom Trials?" A good question, and here comes your answer.



The following article explains how to vote in our regular Sitcom Trials shows and script selections.

The Sitcom Trials gives you, the sitcom lover, two opportunities to vote. When you come to our live shows, you vote for the sitcoms you've seen performed and only see the ending of the winners.

But before then, and open to many more people, there is the chance to vote in our online script selection. Not just vote, but Read, Review and Vote. 

In our stage shows, The Sitcom Trials showcases some sitcoms chosen from writers who've entered their scripts online. This is open to anyone who wishes to enter and is free. Once the scripts have been submitted, it is then up to you, the reader at home, to help us chose which we should perform. All we ask you to do is go to the Script Files where you will find the scripts in contention for the shows in question (see below for show details and deadlines).

Then we ask you to read, give a Twitter length review, and vote either Yes, Maybe or No, to all of the scripts you've managed to read, posting your finished list of reviews and votes to the Facebook Group files.

At the end of the voting period, these votes are then tallied up, with a Yes vote being worth 2 points, a Maybe vote worth 1 points and a No vote being worth minus 1 point. This means it doesn't matter if you've not been able to read all the scripts in contention, your votes will only affect those you've read, and will leave unaffected those on which you've not voted. The plus and minus votes soon give a clear distinction of which scripts are going down well.

So, what are you waiting for? Why not vote now?*

Any questions, ask at the Forum. Happy voting.

Kev F Sutherland
Executive Producer
The Sitcom Trials




* "Because there's no voting open at the moment" is a good answer. Stay tuned to Twitter and Facebook for every new round of script entries and voting.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Great Sci Fi Sitcoms: Metal Mickey

The Sitcom Trials presents Great Sci Fi Sitcoms of Our Times: Metal Mickey



Metal Mickey was a robot first and a sitcom second. Invented by model-maker Jonathan Edward, he was spotted on Jim'll Fix It by TV producer Humphrey Barclay who commissioned former Monkee Mickey Dolenz to produce and direct a comedy series starring the robot and some kids, made by LWT TV from 1980 to 83. At its peak Metal Mickey got 12 million viewers a week. No-one has been found who remembers it being in the least bit funny, though you have to admit its CV is the sort of thing you'd struggle to invent.

So, could you create the great new science fiction sitcom, and make it even more memorable than Metal Mickey? Here's your chance to find out. On Weds Nov 28th The Sitcom Trials presents a Sci Fi Special at the Camden Head in London, and you are invited to submit a script now.



As always scripts are invited to the Sitcom Trials format of a 10 minute opening act ending in a cliffhanger with a short payoff scene. We then perform the sitcoms up to the cliffhanger, the audience votes for their favourite and only sees the ending of the winner.

With this being a Science Fiction Special, we will be taking advantage of our "radio style" presentation, encouraging writers to tailor their sitcom entries for radio production. This enables you to include any special effect you can imagine, as long as they can be incorporated into the dialogue or very simple sound effects.

Writers are invited to upload their scripts to the SitsVac Files, where you will also find the guidelines regarding style, cast numbers etc. The deadline for uploading scripts is midnight Sat Nov 4th.

These scripts will then be voted on online by anyone who wishes to participate. The deadline for voting is Sat Nov 17th. The London team will then choose two or three of the most popular scripts to perform as part of the show, the other items in the show being created in house.

So if you want to have your sci-fi sitcom tested in front of a live paying audience, get on board now and enter The Sitcom Trials. Any questions, please ask at the Sits Vac Forum, or the British Comedy Guide Forum, or the Sitcom Trials Facebook page.

Kev F Sutherland
Producer
The Sitcom Trials

Oct 19 - Halloween Sitcom Trials, Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
Oct 20 - Halloween Sitcom Trials, Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
Nov 28 - Sitcom Trials Sci Fi Special, Camden Head, London

Monday, 17 September 2012

Lass O'Gowrie wins Pub Of The Year

Congratulations to the Sitcom Trials' Manchester home The Lass O'Gowrie, which has won the Pub Of The Year Award. The next Manchester Sitcom Trials takes place there, in a double bill with the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, on October 20th.

Manchester's Lass O'Gowrie named best British pub

The Lass O'Gowrie The pub's management team were praised for "building the pub's reputation as a venue"
A Manchester pub known for its vintage video game machines and upstairs theatre has been named Pub of the Year.
The Lass O'Gowrie on Charles Street took the title at the Great British Pub Awards in London.
It was also named Best Live Music and Entertainment Pub at the awards ceremony on Thursday.
Manager Lisa Connor said staff had "worked tirelessly to make the pub a success and this is a wonderful reward for all the hard work".
The annual awards are given by the licensing trade publication, The Publican's Morning Advertiser.
The paper's editor Rob Willock said the pub attracted "customers from all walks of life and it is this that made it the judges' choice".
'Creative resilience' In giving the award, the judges praised Ms Connor and landlord Gareth Kavanagh for "building the pub's reputation as a venue and organising a huge number of events".
Lisa Connor and Gareth Kavanagh Ms Connor said the pub's "future looks very bright indeed"
The panel said the pub had "responded positively [to] the challenge of losing a large chunk of custom with the departure of BBC Manchester headquarters to Salford".
The judges said they were particularly impressed with the pub's "creative resilience", which has seen it open an upstairs theatre bar for poetry and drama performances and become a base for numerous clubs and organisations, including ones celebrating retro video games and Doctor Who.
Ms Connor said winning the award was "fantastic" and the "future looks very bright indeed".
"We will be putting the award behind the bar for our customers to see," she said.

More on This Story

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Sitcom Trials Scratch Nights Thursdays, Bristol

Announcing Sitcom Trials Scratch Nights, Thursdays in Bristol - you are invited.


Thursday Night Bristol Sitcom Trials. From Thursday 13th September, the Bristol team will be reading sitcom scripts on stage at the Oxford pub, Oxford Street, Totterdown, just before bands take the stage.

We're doing this for fun, (explains Bristol producer Vince Stadon) and because the landlord at the Oxford - who has kindly let us meet on Sundays - has begged us to do it. It'll be free. It'll be from 7pm. It'll be fun. It'll be free (yes I know I said that already). We very much hope to get a good crowd, so please please come along. and please please bring all your friends, except the ones you don't like very much any more.

If it works, we'll read YOUR sitcoms to an audience at future Sitcom Trials Thursday nights, so please feel free to come along with scripts so we can take a look at them - as long as they don't need stage directions, we're keen to perform them. Actors, please get in touch should you wish to be involved - we guarantee a good time!.

Let's see what happens on THURSDAY 13th SEPTEMBER, and we'll take it from there. Could be a nice thing on a regular basis - it's up to you guys to come along and support us.

Actors who want to take part and writers who'd like their work included, please contact Vince Stadon, Bristol team producer, via the Sitcom Trials Facebook page.



Thursday, 6 September 2012

Istanbul - the video

A script that was entered into the Halloween Sitcom Trials, but sadly didn't make the shortlist in the voting, was Istanbul by Alan O'Brien and Luke Welch. So we are indebted to Alan O'Brien for uploading this video, an instalment of Istanbul (aka The One With The Talking Skull In).



I can't claim to fully understand it on first glance myself, so let's call it a grower. And, wait a minute, what's this? A radio play version of Who Judges The Judges, another Halloween Sitcom Trials entry. Click and enjoy.

Meanwhile your scripts are invited for the Sitcom Trials Sci Fi Special taking place in November, and your votes are welcomed on the remaining scripts in the Halloween Sitcom Trials which will be taking place in October.

Announcing the Sitcom Trials Sci Fi Special



Ever wanted to write the great new science fiction sitcom? Now's your chance. On Weds Nov 28th The Sitcom Trials presents a Sci Fi Special at the Camden Head in London, and you are invited to submit a script now.

As always scripts are invited to the Sitcom Trials format of a 10 minute opening act ending in a cliffhanger with a short payoff scene. We then perform the sitcoms up to the cliffhanger, the audience votes for their favourite and only sees the ending of the winner.

With this being a Science Fiction Special, we will be taking advantage of our "radio style" presentation, encouraging writers to tailor their sitcom entries for radio production. This enables you to include any special effect you can imagine, as long as they can be incorporated into the dialogue or very simple sound effects.

Writers are invited to upload their scripts to the SitsVac Files, where you will also find the guidelines regarding style, cast numbers etc. The deadline for uploading scripts is midnight Sat Nov 4th.

These scripts will then be voted on online by anyone who wishes to participate. The deadline for voting is Sat Nov 17th. The London team will then choose two or three of the most popular scripts to perform as part of the show, the other items in the show being created in house.

So if you want to have your sci-fi sitcom tested in front of a live paying audience, get on board now and enter The Sitcom Trials. Any questions, please ask at the Sits Vac Forum, or the British Comedy Guide Forum, or the Sitcom Trials Facebook page.

Kev F Sutherland
Producer
The Sitcom Trials

Oct 19 - Halloween Sitcom Trials, Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
Oct 20 - Halloween Sitcom Trials, Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
Nov 28 - Sitcom Trials Sci Fi Special, Camden Head, London

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Citizen Gif - new Sitcom Trials ad

The Sitcom Trials has a tradition, and indeed a catchphrase, in the form of the "Have We Found The New..?" adverts and links. It's a line the compere, Kev F, has been inventing variations of for the last decade. Here is the latest animated ad version. Do please enjoy, and retweet to your heart's content.


The next Sitcom Trials shows take place in Bristol on Oct 19 and Manchester Oct 20. You are invited to participate by voting on the scripts in contention. See details here.

Sitcom Trials table reading & Halloween latest


Sitcom Trials Bristol table read, today at The Oxford, Totterdown. 

I've just had the pleasure of joining Vince and his Bristol team for a Sitcom Trials table reading of five scripts in contention for the Halloween Sitcom Trials in October.

The team read Three In Tow, Brides of Petenstein, Randolph Carter, Draszic's Lot and Separate Parents, the scripts that stood in Top Five position after the first voting deadline. It was a marvellous reminder of the value of a table-reading, with scripts coming across very differently once heard read out loud as opposed to flat on the page. I'll leave it to Vince to tell you which scripts fared well and what will be going forward to the October show. All I can say is, you see that script that was the best? The one that suddenly every realised "oh wait, this is really good this one"? Yeah, well I gave that one a Yes. Is all I'm saying.

Vince Stadon adds:

Hello,

Kind and sexy people congregated in Totterdown, Bristol today to do Sitcom things, and a jolly time was had by all, not least by Kev F who bewilderingly and aggressively played a Scots woman in a script that really did call for Kev F to play a bewildered and aggressive Scots woman.

In attendance - some very lovely and talented Bristol Sitcom Trials Players, plus a scattering of anxious writers who grew to appreciate why we hold these afternoon meetings in a pub. We read and critiqued the top five scripts as voted by peer review, and a further discussion was held with the Halloween show's director, Alistair Hedderman, after he had won a furious battle with the bar staff to serve him something that seemed very suspiciously like beef and tomato cupasoup.

We took a vote, and the two scripts we absolutely intend to go into rehearsal for our next show are: "The Brides of Pete-enstein" and "Three in Tow". These two scripts garnered the most laughs and appreciation from the team, and any staging issues were worked out in discussion, leading us to believe that they will be performable, funny, and that they will work for an audience.

At the meeting we also discussed and decided upon a classic Trials script, which we also aim to perform, simply because it's a great script that really works. The final two scripts will come from the Bristol team, as we write and rewrite with considerable input from the cast. For me, the process of watching scripts blossom as the cast bring characters to life and give their input is truly magical. Yes, it demands lots of rewrites and time and effort, but the audience don't know that - as they sit there with their cupasoups they just see five funny sitcoms, and that's exactly how it should be. And the audiences for the Sitcom Trials, in London, Manchester and Bristol, have been fantastic.

A few exciting pieces of news for you -

- Thursday Night Bristol Sitcom Trials. From Thursday 13th September, the Bristol team will be reading sitcom scripts on stage at the Oxford pub, Oxford Street, Totterdown, just before bands take to rock the world in an open mic slot.

We're doing this for fun, and because the landlord at the Oxford - who has kindly let us meet on Sundays - has begged us to do it. It'll be free. It'll be from 7pm. It'll be fun. It'll be free (yes I know I said that already). We very much hope to get a good crowd, so please please come along. and please please bring all your friends, except the ones you don't like very much any more.

If it works, we'll read YOUR sitcoms to an audience at future Sitcom Trials Thursday nights, so please feel free to come along with scripts so we can take a look at them - as long as they don't need stage directions, we're keen to perform them. Actors, please get in touch should you wish to be involved - we guarantee a good time!.

Let's see what happens on THURSDAY 13th SEPTEMBER, and we'll take it from there. Could be a nice thing on a regular basis - it's up to you guys to come along and support us.

- The Radio Sitcom Trials. Still in the planning stages, but we're looking to perform 30 minute radio sitcom scripts live in front of an audience, then release them as fully-mixed professional shows. We'll hold open competitions to select scripts. All up in the air at the moment, but discussions are underway and we'll announce how it'll work before the end of the year, and it could be quite exciting.

So.. busy times!

Kind regards and very best wishes,

--Vince


Image

Now Kev F again:

Meanwhile the voting in the online script selection continues,  remembering there is a Halloween Sitcom Trials in Manchester on Oct 20th as well as the one in Bristol on Oct 19th.

 And I've just made it easier for you.

In the files you will find there are now just 17 scripts in contention. I've eliminated (ie put in a folder marked "Eliminated") the scripts that stood on minus figures after the first week of voting. So it's all the easier for everyone who hasn't participated in this process to pitch in and have their say. Just read, review and vote as many as you can, voting YES, MAYBE or NO with Twitter-length reviews, and post them either to the BCG forum or the SitsVac forum.

The files: http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/SitsVac/files/Halloween%20Sitcom%20Trials%20Oct%2012/

The scripts still in contention are:

Draszic's Lot
Separate Parents
Randolph Carter
Three in Tow
Brides of PeteE
Thirteen Gormley St
Blackstable
Country Rock
Red Sky at Night
What Was That?
Who Judges Judges
Roy Richards
Kill Bob
Purgatory
Trick or Treat
Witching Hour
Femme Fatale

Deadline for 2nd wave of voting is midnight Saturday Sept 8th after which I'll post the latest running total and, possibly, do some more eliminating.

Kev F Sutherland
Executive Poducer
The Sitcom Trials

Next shows:
Oct 19 - Halloween Special, Bristol
Oct 20 - Halloween Special, Manchester
London to be announced

PS: New animation. Enjoy:
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