BBC to Launch "Festival of Funny" to "Put a Smile on Faces Across the Country"

BBC headquarters
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BBC headquarters

The initiative will feature comedy legends, such as Eddie Izzard and John Cleese, as well as up-and-coming talent.

The BBC unveiled on Monday plans for "The Festival of Funny," a "celebration of British comedy with the aim to put a smile on faces across the country" that will take place across the U.K. public broadcaster's outlets.

Beginning later in February and running through mid-March, the initiative will be featuring "an array of brand new comedy content across the BBC, as well as celebrating comedy classics and taking a look at some of the greatest icons in British comedy."

Among the comedy legends to be featured are Eddie Izzard and John Cleese.

The Festival of Funny also includes 14 hours of new comedy content, including four comedy pilots for BBC Radio 2, a comedy pilot for BBC Three and a live stand-up series supporting up-and-coming talent that will air over five consecutive nights from a COVID-safe London location.  Confirmed performers for the latter include Jason Manford, Jo Brand, Darren Harriott, Dane Baptiste, Joanne McNally, Rachel Fairburn and Chris McCausland.

Said Shane Allen, director BBC  comedy commissioning: "We’re bringing together the very best of BBC comedy past, present and future in a dedicated festival of funny to do comedy’s job of bringing sunshine and laughter when we need it the most. Comedians have been starved of both stages and live audiences; it’s important that we continue to back the stars of today and tomorrow as well as honor the beloved legends and shows that the BBC has always led the way with."

Among the four radio comedy pilots are The Delightful Sausage on Staycations from The Delightful Sausage, aka Christopher Cantrill and Amy Gledhill, who are bringing their Edinburgh Fringe award nominated double act to BBC Radio 2 with a focus on some of the U.K.'s unique staycations, and an exploration of beards by stand-up comedian Tommy Tiernan.

BBC audiences will also be treated to seven stand-up shows from some of the country's "most famous and loved comedians." For example, Izzard's Force Majeure addresses "huge universal topics to take on – from ancient civilisations to mythical creatures," while Cleese "Live at the Acropolis" sees the Monty Python legend reflect "on key moments from his long career" and explore the nature of comedy.