Wednesday 7 July 2010

Some Wise Words for Sitcom Writers

Paul Mayhew-Archer knows a thing or two about sitcom, having written them (eg. Vicar of Dibley), script edited them (eg. My Hero), and produced them (eg. Old Harry's Game). He's written a little gem about sitcom-writing here which is tucked away on the BBC Writersroom website. Comedy writers old and new should read it - not just on the screen. Print it out and read it. I've just had a look and here's one point about characters that's well worth bearing in mind:

Give the central character relationships that bring out different aspects of his personality. For example Fawlty is subservient with Sybil but a cruel tyrant with Manuel. Blackadder is a crawler with the Queen but a sarcastic bully to Baldrick. The simplest way to do this is to put the characters in some form of hierarchy.

It's not just a question of having a consistent character - but having a blend of characters who bring out different aspects of each others' personality. It sounds complicated, and it is a bit. But if it's not in your sitcom at the start, it'll be very hard to work in later. Wise words.

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