Back to the Future for Kiwi Comedy

MediaWorks is adopting a 65-year-old BBC initiative to investigate fresh comedy opportunities.

It’s using the Comedy Playhouse model, which generated such ’60s classics as Steptoe & Son, Till Death Us Do Part and Up Pompeii, to explore five sitcom possibilities.

Called Comedy Pilot Week, the initiative has just received NZ On Air funding of up to $325,000.

“The pilots, currently in development, will screen in prime time, bringing totally fresh ideas into our living rooms, with audience response keenly awaited,” NZOA reckons in a press release.

NZOA’s also bankrolling an 11th year of 7 Days ($1.056 million for 40 episodes in 2019).

“Apart from continuing to delight audiences, the series is a talent generator, having given a number of comedy writers and performers the opportunity to hone their craft and develop successful careers,” the agency says.

It’s also supporting two TVNZ OnDemand comedy projects: Educators (South Pacific Pictures, up to $498,501 for eight 15-minute episodes) and Baby Mamas Club 2: The Prequel (Culture Factory, up to $342,972 for six 15-minute eps).

Educators is a brand new improvised sitcom starring a dysfunctional bunch of staff at a Kiwi secondary school. A stellar line up of writers will let a talented cast loose to create dialogue around a general story outline that promises plenty of laughs and wry observations. It will be available at TVNZ OnDemand.

Also for online audiences, the dramatic comedy hit Baby Mamas Club has been supported for a second series. The first season of Baby Mamas Club was hugely successful with close to half a million views. The second series is a prequel with a comic undercover search for Johnny’s three baby mamas.

“Our role as a public media funder is not only to ensure audiences have a range of engaging content to enjoy wherever and whenever suits them, but also to provide pathways for talent to emerge. It’s very pleasing to see new comedy writers coming through our funding system, and seeing them nurtured and inspired by established talents,” said NZ On Air CEO Jane Wrightson.

TVNZ’s latest comedy “web-series”, The Fucket List, will stream OnDemand from August 1. Reads the blurb:

Elizabeth and Chelsea are  two young(ish), horrendously socially inept women who have, for probably the first times in their lives, heeded the advice of those around them when they are respectively told that they need to find a best friend. For better or worse… they find each other.

Once together however, this new “friendship” lark is very curious to our clueless heroines and after several whiskeys the girls decide that what best friends do is share things, therefore the only way to truly become ultimate best friends is to share EVERYTHING. Books… clothes… and former lovers, obviously.

And so the game begins. The women set out to go back through each other’s little black books to seduce and totally bang every dude (or dudette) that the other has bedded in the past. This way they’ll be even Stevens! As soon as they’ve both banged Steven.

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