Writers’ Brief

Kirrin island is an island somewhere in the vicinity of the UK, once the scene of many jolly japes for the Famous Five. It’s now home to the same types of people as the rest of the UK, with the added bonus of an island mentality and a disconcertingly concentrated gene pool.

The original ‘Live From Kirrin Island’ was topical – featuring sketches and one-liners about how real-life topical issues affect island life. This time we’re asking for material for a new Kirrin Island-based podcast. The island’s residents are sick of us portraying their home as full of rich celebrity idiots, and we’ve listened. So now the show is about their lives. That doesn’t mean to say they aren’t extraordinary people – they are. And they often find themselves in extraordinary situations. And they share the same daily challenges and opportunities as the rest of us. Does the island have a pub, an arts centre, a brothel? You decide…..

What we’re after (and not after)

We’re looking for non-topical sketches and one-liners about the ordinary people who live on Kirrin Island. Focusing on the islanders means the show will be character-driven rather than concept-based, so think strong funny characters with distinctive voices and traits – exaggerated or skewed versions of people we all know in real life, or new creations with a grain of truth in them.

Because the podcast will be located on modern-day Kirrin Island (which is a microcosm of the UK) we would not be able to find a place for sketches set in the past or future, or in a fantasy universe. The other thing we’d like to avoid is material featuring impressions of politicians and celebrities, and the recurring characters we’ve used in previous podcasts. We think making a different type of show is a great opportunity to create some brand new characters instead.

Sketches
Most sketches should be a maximum of 2 minutes long, but it’s ok for more complex ones to be longer. We’d also love some quickies (please insert the contractual oo-er if reading this aloud) – 15-30 second sketches built around one big laugh.

We’d love to have a range of locations represented in sketches, so think carefully about where your character is likely to be, or where it would be interesting to put them. And don’t feel limited to one funny character surrounded by boring characters – we’d love some funny families and groups of colleagues and friends too.

One-liners.

The sketches will be joined by some character-based one-liners, in a new format – ‘Overheard on the Island’. These are the sort of thing you might overhear on a train or that someone you know might say as part of a conversation, but they should be funny in themselves, without needing to know any more details of what’s going on. They can be set anywhere on the island, in any situation, but as they’re one-liners they should just be one character speaking, for one or two (or three if absolutely necessary) sentences. To fit the style of the show, ideally the humour should come from something character-based, but good gags could work here too. As this show is not about the news, the ‘overheards’ could be about any topic that gives your character a chance to demonstrate their funny traits.

A few examples to give you an idea of what we’re looking for:

“I don’t know about you but I always feel nervous drinking instant coffee in a crematorium. You know, in case they mixed up the jars.”

“See that scar? Rail accident. Scumbag ran me over with the refreshments trolley.”

“Hanging’s too good for them. So I put them on my back windowsill with all the other old Christmas Decorations.”

How to submit

We’re looking for no more than two sketches and one quickie and up to 12 one-liners “overheards”. Please email to LiveFromKirrinIsland@gmail.com by end of day 17th April 2015 in standard radio format.

Send each sketch as a separate document attached to an email with the title of the document being your name followed by the name of the sketch.

For example: Clem Fandango – Ringo’s Bingo.doc

For sketches please ensure there is a header on each page that includes:
– Your name
– The title of your sketch
– Your e-mail address

In terms of formatting sketches, please format them in a similar manner to BBC radio sketch show. An example template (that can be copied) on Google Docs can be seen here:

 Effects.

    We can do background and spot sound effects, so please use these to best effect, to add extra atmosphere and depth to your sketches.

The cast.

    Assume our cast will be two males and two females. We may be able to squeeze in more parts but four will be the limit for most sketches. As explained above, we’re not looking for impressions sketches this time, but our cast can do most accents and we’d love to have a range of characters from different backgrounds, classes and places (Kirrin Island has its own equivalents of different areas of the UK).

What we like in sketches
We all have day jobs and, much as we would love to, we only have limited time to spend editing sketches and rehearsing. So to help both you and us get your material used, this is what we love to see:

  • A sketch that isn’t the obvious angle on a subject.
  • An opening – or a voiceover intro – that makes the context clear. Both the intro and any set-up in the sketch itself need to be funny.
  • A sketch that develops as it goes along – people doing things as well as talking, escalation of the core idea, a twist (even if small) or complication; basically anything that builds the sketch towards the end.
  • Dialogue that’s been lovingly rewritten to remove all unnecessary lines/words, and has clearly been read aloud to check it’s easy to act out.
  • Lots of laughs (which can be subtle). We have a demanding audience and we need to keep them on board in longer sketches.
  • Different types of voices, which will make that part stand in out in the show, as well as bringing alive the sketch for the audience.
  • Lots of ‘character’ full stop, even in smaller and set up parts – we have a great cast so we like to make them work for a living (while the production team shout things like “look, just play it like a frustrated Jeremy Irons trapped in Greenland. Come on, it’s easy”).
  • A sketch with strong female parts – we don’t get enough of these.

Things that make us go ‘hmm’, but not in a C+C Music Factory way:

  • Two people just ‘talking funny’
  • Swearing. Well, let’s be clear, most of us like swearing, particularly while doing final edits about 5 mins before recording, but we’re a non-explicit podcast. Anyway, it’s good practice to get laughs without someone shouting f***.
  • Really surreal stuff: we like this as well, but it’s very difficult to fit this type of sketch into the Kirrin Island setting.