EP73 – Chris Sussman – The future of comedy at BBC Studios from the Head of Comedy.

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EP73 – Chris Sussman – The future of comedy at BBC Studios from the Head of Comedy.


Total run time: 50 mins 11 secs.

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About Chris Sussman…

Chris Sussman (@chris_sussman) is the Head of Comedy at BBC Studios. Chris is responsible for leading the BBC Studios Comedy team, across the UK – in TV, radio and online. He manages the existing slate of productions and takes the lead in developing new hit shows and working with exciting, diverse comedy writers and performers. If anyone knows about offense, the state of comedy at the BBC and how to sell an idea to TV it’s Chris.

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Here’s a list of questions we covered…

Head of Comedy at BBC Studios…

  • What is his job? [ 0 mins 0 secs]
  • What’s their relationship like with the writers room? [2 mins]
  • What’s a typical day in his job. [3 min 30 secs]
  • How does someone get their script in front of him? [4 mins 09 secs]
  • How many unsigned writers does he work with? [7 mins]
  • What are you looking for and what “surprises” him enough to want to work on a script? [9 mins]
  • What is he looking for and where does he look for it? [11 mins]
  • What exactly goes into his doc when he goes to sell an idea? And how has selling ideas changed? [12 mins]
  • Where do you send a script into? [13 mins 50 secs]
  • What does that mean to someone who doesn’t know what you do?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What would you have to say to a cynical comedian who says that the BBC isn’t taking enough risks on new talent? [5 mins 28 secs]
  • What are some examples of types of comedy or TV shows that you’ve put forward that weren’t to your taste but that you thought would work on the BBC?
    • Would you say the Beeb is trying to appeal to a different demographic as it goes forward?
  • I went to a meeting for the BBC Charter Review which is due to happen at the end of this year where I was told that the next Charter period was about being British, Bold and Creative. What does that mean to you? [21 mins]
    • focused on “fresh innovative content” and “being more bold with content” and “trying to make the brands more distinct within the channels”
  • I read an article which said that BBC Studios had to lose several producers and production people in the redundancies. How has this and how will this impact your ability to pitch and develop shows?
  • How he deals with being told an idea he loves isn’t funny. [14 mins]
  • I read an article, now it was in the Daily Mail so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was wrong, but I read an article saying that the BBC puts a lot of jokes through a lot of layers because they’re scared of causing offence. Is this true? [17 mins]
  • Do you think it’s the BBCs responsibility to look after people’s feelings when it comes to offence? [15 mins 58 secs]
  • How has “PC culture” impacted people getting offended and ideas coming through? [19 mins]
  • Why do you think the “new” thing is always seen as younger person? [26 mins 30 secs]
  • What’s the hardest part of selling an idea? [27 mins 30 secs]
  • Where does he scout for ideas / writers and what is he looking for? [30 mins]
  • What are channels not looking for? [31 mins]
  • Are the channels evolving with the new technology / ways audiences are watching shows? [33 mins 30 secs]
  • Why doesn’t a TV show change when it moves to iPlayer? How is technology impacting how people watch TV? [35 mins]
  • Is on demand getting more viewers than regular scheduling? [37 mins 30 secs]
  • How does the BBC stay up to date with viewing habits and what trends are coming in the next 5 years? [39 mins 30 secs]
  • What do you think of NetFlix?  [40 mins 30 secs]
  • What’s the BBCs relationship with social media? Do they scout on there? [42 mins 20 secs]
  • Does social media buzz have an impact on his job / commissioning / selling ideas? [45 mins]

Other questions…

  • What are the common misconceptions people have about what you do? [29 mins 10 secs]
  • Who do you think is the most underrated person in your industry? [45 mins 26 secs]
  • Best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? [45 mins 40 secs]





Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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