The Ones That Got Away – Rejected Sitcoms

As a budding radio or TV comedy writer the steps go:

  1. sketch show contributor
  2. sketch show writer
  3. sitcom contributor
  4. sitcom writer
  5. BAFTA winner
  6. film writer
  7. Oscar winner

Well, for a very select few that is.

I got to number 2! That was my level and I was happy to get there. After listening to and watching comedy shows when I heard my actual own material on air I was elated. I had many never to be forgotten moments. New Year was celebrated that bit more keenly if you’d managed to get a sketch on the shows being broadcast before the bells.

So once this had been achieved I thought I had nothing better to do than have my own sitcom on the TV or radio. Ah. Not quite so easy. While established shows will happily take your sketches, a production company is not quite so amenable to spending vast amounts of its own money on trying your show out. The BBC get deluged with budding writers and very, very few get their own shows made just like that. It takes years and having connections and agents and connections who are agents and if you have a mate who suddenly becomes a successful stand-up then that will help your knock at the door get answered. If you are a successful stand-up, even better.

Of all the submitted sitcoms that I have had rejected (the tears long dried) this one is perhaps my favourite. It stems from a subject that has never been depicted: planespotting and I figured there was a lot of laughs for both the committed aviation enthusiast and the innocent watcher in a world inhabited by dedicated, knowledgeable amateurs who seem to be obsessed with their goals.

A few years after this was rejected I watched the BBC series Detectorists which has some echoes of what I was trying to do, albeit from the arcane and ancient world of metal detecting and with much more skill and gentle comedy than my effort.

My own sitcom was called Plane Daft and here’s the pilot (pun very much intended) episode. (Still not sure about the ending.)

Plane Daft – Episode One – The Daft Busters