Comedy and Drama writer Tiwa Lade is this year’s recipient of the Felix Dexter Bursary scheme.

The six-month bursary, run by BBC’s Comedy Association is awarded to aspiring comedy writers, with the aim of making a positive intervention to address an under-representation of black, Asian and ethnic minority professionals in comedy production in broadcasting.

Now in its fourth year, the Felix Dexter Bursary, is designed to find writers with a fresh, unique point of view and the potential to help shape the future of comedy. It is open to black, Asian and other ethnic minority writers or writing duos who are aged 18 or over.

Tiwa continued to write after graduating from Drama School. Her plays Rush and Everyday were put on for rehearsed readings in theatres in New York, Lagos and London receiving critical acclaim. As she continues to create stories, Tiwa is particularly excited about work that puts Black people in the forefront with complex and well-rounded characters. She will be based in BBC offices across the UK whilst on the bursary.

Tiwa says: “I started writing my first play, Rush, six years ago; from gathering friends to read excerpts in a café, to research and development and eventually short but memorable runs in theatres. I am so happy and excited to start working as a writer with the BBC on other projects, it’s a dream come true! Someone, anyone pinch me!” 

The first Felix Dexter Bursary was launched in 2017 after Paul Whitehouse (Trustee of the Felix Dexter Foundation) and BBC Comedy, agreed that supporting and encouraging writers from an ethnic minority background would be a fitting tribute to the late comedy actor and writer, who featured in iconic BBC comedies including The Fast Show and The Real McCoy.

On a practical level, the bursary gives up-and-coming talent the chance to make comedy writing their main focus for six months, while immersed in comedy production. They hone their skills while gaining experience on a range of BBC comedies across radio, TV and online, on panel shows, shorts, sitcoms or comedy entertainment shows. The programme offers the writers the support they need to take the next step in their career.

Following on from the success of funding trainee placements on Man Like Mobeen and PRU, BBC Comedy continues its commitment to invest in and support new off-screen talent from across the UK with a focus on those from disabled, ethnic minority and social economic disadvantaged backgrounds. This year BBC Comedy has funded trainee placements on a range of production roles, working on some of its most popular comedies like The Funny Festival Live, The Offenders, Alma’s Not Normal, In My Skin, Ladhood and Two Doors Down.

Tanya Qureshi, Head of BBC Comedy, says: “We are delighted to be welcoming Tiwa into the BBC Comedy team and working with her towards the next step in her career. The Felix Dexter bursary remains incredibly important and precious to BBC Comedy. We are so pleased to be able to fund a placement which affords new comedy writers from minority backgrounds the time out to fully focus on further developing their craft. Finding and nurturing new talent, on and off screen, is a vital part of what we do.”

BBC Comedy is currently funding further trainee placements on eight upcoming comedy productions yet to be announced.

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