BBC director of comedy Shane Allen to depart the corporation

Allen has been in charge of the Beeb’s comedy output since 2012 and has commissioned a range of hits including Detectorists, Peter Kay’s Car Share, This Country, Inside No. 9, Motherland, Fleabag and the Gavin & Stacey 2019 Christmas Special.

He is leaving the BBC to team up with former head of BBC comedy commissioning Kate Doughton with whom he’ll be launching Boffola Pictures Limited – a new outfit specialising in scripted comedy and comedy drama, backed by Lookout Point.

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.”

Despite a lack of mainstream comedy hits for BBC One, the BBC note that comedy on Allen’s watch has been in rude health winning the National Television Awards’ comedy category back to back since 2012 and Bafta for scripted comedy back to back from 2012-2018.

Allen helped to establish the Galton & Simpson bursary in collaboration with the Mental Health FoundationOne of Allen’s biggest success stories was the 2019 Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special

He has nurtured new talent through initiatives such as Comedy Playhouse, New On Two and Comedy Slices. He launched 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.

In 2021, he established the BBC Comedy Association to engage and enable a new wave of talent on and off screen and most recently, masterminded the Festival of Funny – a pan-BBC celebration of British comedy to put a smile on faces across the country through the pandemic.

Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer at the BBC, said: “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.

“Shane 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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