Shane Allen BBC Director of Comedy to leave – sets up Boffolo Pictures

Shane Allen, BBC’s Director of Comedy has confirmed he is leaving the BBC to team up with recently departed Head of Comedy Commissioning Kate Daughton to launch a new outfit specialising in scripted comedy and comedy drama, he venture is backed by Lookout Point

During his tenure Allen has achieved incredible success with an eclectic mix of pioneering and distinctive shows. He has led BBC comedy since 2012 and has been responsible for commissioning a vast range of award winning hits including Detectorists, Peter Kay’s Car Share, This Country, The Young Offenders, Upstart Crow, Inside No. 9, W1A, Motherland, People Just Do Nothing, Fleabag, Famalam, Mum, Ghosts, Gavin & Stacey 2019 Christmas Special, This Time with Alan Partridge, Back to Life, Two Doors Down, In My Skin and Man Like Mobeen.

From mainstream family favourites to sketch comedy and studio sitcom, Allen has overseen a period in which BBC comedy has won the National Television Awards’ comedy category back to back since 2012 and Bafta for scripted comedy back to back from 2012-2018. And just last week, BBC comedy received a clean sweep of Bafta nominations in the scripted comedy and comedy writer categories, a broadcaster first to have the double in the same year.

Allen is a passionate supporter of new talent and has been instrumental in launching a range of new initiatives from BBC One’s Comedy Playhouses, BBC Two’s New On Two strand and Comedy Slices and Threesomes on BBC Three which continues to be a vital place to develop the next generation of on and off-screen comedy talent. His iPlayer comedy shorts strand uniquely offered generation defining comedy talent the space to experiment with ideas, concepts and formats many of which have gone onto series with Gbemisola Ikumelo’s Brain In Gear winning the Bafta Short-form category most recently. Foot in the door opportunities he launched include The Felix Dexter Bursary to open opportunities for diverse talent, The Galton & Simpson Bursary geared towards mental health support, and The Caroline Aherne Bursary whose inaugural winner Sophie Wilan is one of the Bafta nominees this year with Alma’s Not Normal.

Allen established the BBC Comedy Association

In 2021, Allen established the BBC Comedy Association to engage and enable a new wave of talent on and off screen including the return to television of the New Comedy Awards to ensure that BBC comedy is at the forefront of supporting the industry across the UK at all levels in 2021/22 and beyond. During his tenure as part of this initiative BBC comedy has partnered with multiple productions to bring through trainees from under-represented backgrounds off screen in a variety of roles.

Most recently, Allen masterminded the Festival of Funny – a pan-BBC celebration of British comedy to put a smile on faces across the country through the pandemic. Last week it was announced that BBC Three is the first broadcaster whose scripted comedy output has a majority female leaning in authorship for scripted comedy the year ahead.

Shane Allen says: “I’ve felt like a competition winner every single day working with the cream of creative talents at the broadcaster which is so synonymous with the story of British comedy. Now feels an opportune time to start a new career chapter as the world opens up again and British comedy talents continue to take the world by storm.”

Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer, says: “Shane is an extraordinary creative whose passion for spotting exciting new talent and pushing comedy boundaries has had a remarkable impact on the whole British comedy industry for the best part of a decade. From Fleabag to Car Share, This Country to People Just Do Nothing, Inside No. 9, and Motherland to Famalam, the range, the quality and the sheer ambition of BBC comedy has kept audiences laughing year in year out. And his pioneering work to support new talent has led to a golden age for British comedy, winning more awards, launching more new voices on the global stage and commissioning more hits than any other broadcaster. He leaves BBC comedy in rude health but we owe Shane a great debt of gratitude and I won’t be alone in saying I will miss him greatly both personally and professionally.”

The BBC will begin recruitment immediately for a new Director of Comedy.

Kate Phillips, Director of BBC Entertainment, will now oversee new scripted comedy commissioning decisions whilst Allen oversees ongoing productions and works on the BBC Comedy Association’s inaugural year plans for a city of comedy, appointment of a Young People’s Comedy Laureate and the TV re-boot of The New Comedy Awards. He will leave the BBC in August.

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