the betty box and peter rogers comedy writing programme


Four writers selected from 600 submissions

Recipients to receive £10,000 to support a six-month period of script development

“The Betty and Peter List” of 10 exciting un-produced comedy writers also announced

4 October 2016: London, UK – The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF), the UK charity for people working behind the scenes in cinema, film and television, has today announced the four recipients of the inaugural Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme in partnership with Big Talk Productions and LOCO London Comedy Film Festival.

Selected from over 600 applications, the recipients are Christine Robertson, Laura Kirwan- Ashman, Meryl O’Rourke and Sasha Collington. Each of them will now receive £10,000 to support a six-month period of script development for their feature film screenplay or television sitcom pilot. Guiding the recipients creatively will be Big Talk Productions, who have matched each of the writers with an experienced script editor to help shape their projects over the coming months.

The CTBF and LOCO will work closely with the recipients to provide professional support; highlighting opportunities for networking and supporting the next steps of their writing careers. The programme will culminate in a fully-cast live read of the completed scripts at LOCO’s London Comedy Film Festival at BFI Southbank in May 2017.

Also announced today was The Betty and Peter List; 10 of the most exciting un-produced comedy writers that emerged from the application process. In addition to the four recipients, the list comprises six writers that the selection panel felt were exceptionally talented and deserving of industry recognition. The full Betty and Peter List, including contact details, can be found at

The programme was launched in July and is given in honour of Betty Box and Peter Rogers, legendary producers of the Doctor and Carry On series. Placing writers at its centre, the programme recognises the need to support talented individuals so that they have the time and space to produce work which will resonate. In creating the Betty and Peter Programme, The CTBF is continuing its commitment to those working in the film and television industries who are talented and driven but who need support in order to develop their careers.

The recipients will tonight attend an industry reception in London at BFI Stephen Street, which will be an opportunity to launch the programme of activity that follows over the next six months, and bring together members of the UK film and television industries to celebrate some of the brightest emerging comedy talent.

D’Arcy Myers, CEO of The CTBF commented: “We have been delighted by the interest and quality of submissions for the inaugural Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme. The CTBF launched the programme in order to discover and support some of the very best un-produced comedy writers, and with Christine, Laura, Meryl and Sasha I believe we have done just that. We’re excited to be honouring the legacy of Betty and Peter in this way; by contributing to the UK’s thriving comedy landscape that is such a part of the film and television industries which The CTBF cares for deeply.”

Kenton Allen, Big Talk Productions CEO said: ‘Big Talk are thrilled to be part of such a generous and unique programme for new comedy writers. Without writers, Big Talk would immediately cease to exist, so what the CBTF have made possible here, along with the LOCO Film Festival and ourselves, is a financially and professionally supported programme for talented individuals to focus on their craft over a concentrated period of time. It’s impossible to put a price on what a difference this could make to these writers, some of whom are juggling two or 3 freelances jobs to pay their rent while trying to find the time to pursue the career they are clearly gifted enough to succeed at. The programme was designed to attract writers from all walks of life and all ages, and that’s exactly what it’s achieved. The team at Big Talk is immensely proud of the four recipients and excited to see what they come up with by the end of the programme in May 2017”

Denise Hicks, Co-Founder and Director of LOCO commented: “LOCO’s mission is to discover, develop and screen the world’s most original comedy talent, so we’re delighted to be working with Big Talk and the CTBF on the inaugural Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme. We look for new comedy writing with brains, heart and courage, and this year’s recipients deliver all three. Each of them also has an authentic, compelling, original voice, and a hunger to develop and learn from the best in the comedy business. We look forward to working with them over the next six months, and to presenting their scripts at the sixth LOCO London Comedy Film Festival next May.”


Christine Robertson

Christine’s first script won the Funny Women Comedy Writing Award in 2011. She has since worked in the writers’ room for series five and six of Trollied, had a comedy feature shortlisted for iFeatures and been selected for BBC Writersroom’s 2015/16 Comedy Room. She was recently commissioned to write sketches for David Walliams and Tracey Ullman, and is currently being mentored by Andy Riley.


Laura Kirwan-Ashman

Laura initially wrote for the stage, before finding a love for screenplays in 2014, leading to her selection for the Barbican’s Young Film Programmer scheme. In 2015, Laura formed the female film collective Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah, which recently released its first web series. Laura freelances as a script reader for several production companies as she continues to develop her own original work.


Meryl O’Rourke

Meryl has been performing as a stand-up comedienne since 2003, and in recent years has supported Frankie Boyle on his UK tours. Meryl’s original 2011 one-woman show, Bad Mother, received multiple five-star reviews at Edinburgh Fringe, and she is currently previewing her latest show, The Good Wife. Meryl continues to write for leading panel shows, whilst working on her original scripted material for television.


Sasha Collington

Sasha is a graduate of London Film School’s prestigious filmmaking MA and has attended Berlinale Talent Campus as a director, and Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam as a writer. She has written and directed six short films, with her most recent, Lunch Date, screening at festivals worldwide including Aspen Shortsfest where it won a Special Jury Recognition Award. Sasha is currently in post on her debut comedy feature as a writer-director, Love Type D.


For further information on the Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme, please visit


For more information please contact:

Anna Dack


0207 932 9800

[email protected]



About The CTBF

The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (The CTBF) is the TV and Film charity supporting people working behind the scenes in the UK film, cinema and commercial television industries. They provide care, advice and financial assistance to industry employees (active and retired) and their families who suffer adversity. This may be due to bereavement, illness, redundancy, relationship break down and other hardships.


About LOCO London Comedy Film Festival

LOCO is a not-for-profit organisation that discovers, develops and screens the world’s most original comedy filmmakers. The LOCO London Comedy Film Festival is the UK’s only international comedy film festival, and will return to BFI Southbank and selected cinemas for its sixth year in spring 2017. The Festival also includes the annual LOCO Discovery Awards for new British feature films and shorts, and our Kickstart Your Comedy Career course, which provides the professional skills and contacts that filmmakers need to develop their careers. LOCO also runs special screenings, training events and support for filmmakers, and in 2014/15 ran a mentoring programme with Sky.


About Big Talk Productions

Big Talk Productions is one of the UK’s leading television production companies. It has enjoyed an exceptional output of outstanding original scripted television comedy and drama, and a track record of nurturing talent since the company began with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright and Nira Park’s cult television series ‘Spaced’. Big Talk has enjoyed many successes over the years, including being named ‘Production Company of the Year’ at the 2014 Edinburgh TV Festival Awards.

Led by Chief Executive Kenton Allen, Managing Director Matthew Justice and Founder Nira Park, the company has expanded significantly over the last eight years. Highlights of this award-winning output include ‘Rev.’ (BBC2) and ‘Him & Her’ (BBC3) both winning the BAFTA for situation comedy in 2011 and 2014, and multi-award nominee ‘Friday Night Dinner’ which has just completed production on its fourth series.

In 2015, Big Talk produced ‘Cockroaches’ (ITV2), a comedy series set in a post-apocalyptic world, written by Freddy Syborn (co-writer of Bad Education) and starring Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Esther Smith and Jack Whitehall. ‘The Job Lot’, starring Sarah Hadland and Russell Tovey returned to ITV2 for a third series, and ‘Brotherhood’, from new writers Patrick Carr and Paul McKenna was broadcast on Comedy Central.

Another big hit from 2015 was ‘Raised By Wolves’, written by Caitlin and Caroline Moran, which was re-commissioned for a second series after it premiered to rapturous reviews and ratings. The family from ‘Wolvo’ returned to screens in March 2016 on Channel 4. A US version is being created by Oscar winning writer Diablo Cody.

Big Talk also stormed into 2016 with ‘Crashing’, written by and starring multi-award-winning actress and playwright Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which aired on Channel 4 to rave reviews. And in May, ‘Mum’ (BBC2) – the continuing collaboration between Big Talk and ‘Him & Her’ creator Stefan Golaszewski – made its critically-lauded debut.

Big Talk also continues to make its mark in drama programming. ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’ (Sky Arts), starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe won a Broadcast Award for Best Multi-Channel Programme. ‘Youngers’ (E4) proved to be a big hit and also returned for a second series. ‘Mr Sloane’ starring Nick Frost and Olivia Colman launched on Sky Atlantic from Emmy-award winning writer and director Robert Weide, and from the Oscar nominated Matt Charman came the drama series ‘Our Zoo’, which broadcast on BBC1.

2016 saw the launch of 10 x 60 supernatural detective series ‘Houdini and Doyle’ from House creator David Shore, his long-time collaborator David Hoselton and leading Canadian screenwriter David Titcher, directed by Stephen Hopkins (Californication, 24). The crime series starred Stephen Mangan and Michael Weston, and was an Anglo Canadian co-production for ITV, Fox (USA) and Shaw (Canada). Big Talk is also bringing back the much-loved and BAFTA award-winning drama series ‘Cold Feet’ to ITV with creator Mike Bullen and the original cast for broadcast later in 2016.

Big Talk’s first feature film was cult-comedy ‘Shaun of the Dead’, for which Nira Park received a Carl Foreman Award nomination at BAFTA. The film was the first installment of Wright’s iconic ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. ‘Shaun’ was followed by 2007 hit ‘Hot Fuzz’ and 2013’s ‘The World’s End’.

Big Talk produced Edgar Wright’s ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ in 2010; Joe Cornish’s SXSW audience-award winning debut feature ‘Attack the Block’ in 2011, and that same year Greg Mottola’s ‘Paul’, written by Pegg and Frost. In 2012, Big Talk produced Ben Wheatley’s Cannes-premiered black-comedy ‘Sightseers’; in 2013 Jeremy Lovering’s critically-acclaimed psychological horror ‘In Fear’, which premiered at Sundance; and in 2014 ‘Cuban Fury’, starring Nick Frost, Chris O’Dowd and Rashida Jones.

Most recently Big Talk produced rom-com ‘Man Up’, starring Simon Pegg, Lake Bell and directed by Ben Palmer. The movie premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and won ‘Best Comedy’ at the 2016 National Film Awards. Big Talk also produced Sacha Baron Cohen’s action-comedy ‘Grimsby’, which was released February 2016. Big Talk is currently producing Edgar Wright’s latest movie ‘Baby Driver’, which stars Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey. The film was shot in Atlanta, GA and is scheduled for a spring 2017 release.

Big Talk continues to work with some of the most exciting voices in both the UK and the US to bring fresh, dynamic, authored stories to screen.