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Kevin's adventures in Newsjack

By Vicky Anderson on Feb 25, 10 06:58 PM

Former Echo hack Kevin Core is a Newsjacker, having had several of his topical comedy sketches aired on the BBC Radio show. Here he writes for the Comedy Blog about how he got on - and how you could too.


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When I was a child, I worked out I could get three episodes of Stephen Fry's early radio show, Saturday Night Fry, on one C90. All I had to do was sit hunched over my frankly enormous Aiwa radio cassette complex and pounce midway through the second show when the time came to turn the tape.


Yes I was that sad. It was the closest the '80s got to the digital switchover. This homespun ingenuity has of course been replaced by the easy click of the podcast, so it's NO WONDER THE COUNTRY'S GONE TO THE DOGS.


From Fry and Hancock, Hitchhiker's, the Million Pound Radio Show to Son of Cliche to Milton Jones to Nebulous I have always been a radio comedy nut. I'd dabbled in writing on the Oxford radio station Oxygen FM, before someone thought it was a good idea to provide the regulator with a fake tape of a day's output. Cue a £20,000 fine and no more radio station.


My career took me into the laugh-a-minute world of regional news reporting and between crime scenes and ASBOs the urge to write something that didn't involve a stabbing festered.


Then I heard about Radio 7's Newsjack. Almost every comedian and writer I rated had "Week Ending" on their CVs. Starting in the '70s it was the "open submission" radio show which gave new talent the chance to get their efforts aired.Newsjack's remit is to do the same and throughout the first season and the recently broadcast second, the show has provided a platform for the debuts of new writers who for the first time have been able to hear a line get a laugh on national radio and say: "I wrote that".


It's a half-hour topical comedy show hosted with sneery verve by Miles Jupp (pictured) with the talents of Lewis MacLeod, Jess Robinson, and Andi Osho.


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When on the air the deadline for jokes and sketches is Monday morning, giving script editor Dan Tetsell and producers Tilusha Ghelani and Sam Michell time to make their selections, and test the material in a table read with the cast.


The show is recorded in front of an audience on Wednesday night for a summer fresh Thursday night 11pm broadcast, plus a sort of fresh Sunday repeat. On Thursday afternoon the hopeful contributors knacker their refresh buttons waiting for that email to drop - the one that tells them that their hilarious, sideways take on Quantative Easing has made the cut.


Judging by the message boards, Thursdays for the eager Newsjacker pass in one of two ways.
A) "I'm in! Good old Auntie Beeb, seeking out the best in new talent and that really is the key purpose of a public broadcaster and they do it so well and actually I think I will buy that Wallander box set." B) "Typical. They wouldn't know talent if Alan Yentob sprayed it on his Rolls and crashed it into Broadcasting House. Obviously I don't hang out in the Groucho enough. Maybe they didn't get my email."


If you think you've got a joke in you and you can keep it topical, a new series of Newsjack is in the pipeline and you can find out all you need to know at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/newsjack.


The Writersroom section of the beeb site has a series of blogs by Dan Tetsell full of useful tips to lessen your chances of that Thursday night "Newsjacked Off" feeling, including a marvellous pie chart from radio entertainment staff writer Gareth Gwynn, detailing key reasons for rejection.


They include covering stuff the show has already done, sketches that are too long, low on gags and weirdly, breast fixated. I know. On radio. What's the point? Encouragingly though, a hefty slice of the Gwynn Pie of Comedy Failure is given over to the fifth of scripts that make it through to the next stage.


If you like comedy and fancy your chances, what have you got to lose? The worst that can happen is you don't hear back, you don't make it on air, and you're thrust into a violent maelstrom of depression and self-loathing, but for me, that's just Thursday nights anyway.


Newsjack returns in the summer, and you can follow @KevinCore on Twitter anytime.

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