International language of laughter: RTÉ seeks comedies with export potential

Funding scheme with Irish Film Board will see four pilots and one full series produced

Nostalgia that travels: RTÉ2’s 1980s-themed ‘Bridget & Eamon’, featuring Jennifer Zamparelli and Bernard O’Shea, was acquired by UKTV.

Nostalgia that travels: RTÉ2’s 1980s-themed ‘Bridget & Eamon’, featuring Jennifer Zamparelli and Bernard O’Shea, was acquired by UKTV.

 

RTÉ is calling for proposals for television comedies with export potential under a joint funding scheme with the Irish Film Board.

An initial 10 half-hour scripted comedy projects will be developed, then four broadcast pilots that succeed in attracting international funding will be made. One pilot will then proceed to a full series.

The move follows the sale of RTÉ2 / Deadpan Pictures comedy drama Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope to UK online channel BBC Three, as well as UKTV’s acquisition of RTÉ2’s Bridget & Eamon, the 1980s-themed sitcom made for RTÉ2 by Pure Class Productions.

“We want to help bring the next generation of Irish comedy talent to the world,” said RTÉ head of comedy Eddie Doyle.

Under the scheme, producers must secure additional finance from international distributors or broadcasters that, at a minimum, matches RTÉ’s investment at both pilot and series stage.

Further funding may be sourced from the Government’s Section 481 tax credit for film and television production.

Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey said the aim was to further develop the depth of Irish comedy writing talent on television.

“Irish audiences traditionally love home grown comedies with films such as The Young Offenders, The Stag, The Hardy Bucks Movie and older titles such as Intermission and Man About Dog proving to be major hits at the Irish box office,” Mr Hickey said.

“We hope this pilot scheme will discover new creative talent, resulting in screen storytelling which will be successful with Irish and international audiences.”