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Newsjack Series 19, Episode 1 - What the sketch?

· Tips,Comedy,Sketch,Newsjack

As a new series of Newsjack airs, we take a look at the key ingredients behind the sketches broadcast each episode...

It's that time of the year again, as comedy writers everywhere knuckle down for another 6 weeks of joke and sketch writing in the hope that their material will make it through to the hallowed ground that is a Newsjack broadcast episode.

I really like Newsjack sketches in that they showcase a classic sketch format and encourage a high gag-per-line ratio. If you want to be a comedy writer, you can do much worse than to master the art of a Newsjack sketch.

Each week I'll be looking briefly at each of the broadcast sketches to summarise their key ingredients - specifically identifying the Target, Message and Premise - all key ingredients when creating a comedy sketch (doubly so for topical material)


  1. I don't work or speak for the BBC or the Newsjack production team, or any of the writers - these are my thoughts alone.
  2. This is not an advice blog.  Newsjack provide their own advice and guidance on writing for the show which you should read if you want to submit.
  3. I am happy to be corrected in my analysis - please get in touch as required!

Sketch Summary - Episode 1

Sketch 1 - Nuisance Calls

Story - Tighter nuisance call regulations come into force

Target - Theresa May

Message - She's rubbish at making trade deals

Premise - What if...Theresa May's trade deal negotiations are regarded as nuisance calls?

Technique used - Subject shift (Theresa May) / Format shift (Cold calling)

Sketch 2 - John McDonnell

Story - John McDonnell makes takes 'call off the dogs' comments literally

Target - John McDonnell / The Labour party

Message - Labour are avoiding tacking the issue of centre-left MPs being forced out

Premise - What if...John McDonnell takes everything literally?

Technique used - Logical extreme

Sketch 3 - The Borisguard

Story - Boris Johnson behaves badly / Tories compile a dirty dossier on him

Target - Boris Johnson

Message - Boris is a sexually charged nightmare

Premise - What if...the TV drama Bodyguard was about Boris Johnson?

Technique used - Format shift (TV Drama)

Sketch 4 - Middle age drinkers

Story - People in middle age are more likely to drink to excess than any other age group

Target - Middle age drinkers

Message - Middle age drinkers are over-privileged

Premise - What if...Stacey Dooley investigated middle-age drinkers?

Technique used - Format shift (TV investigative documentary)

Sketch 5 - Scallop wars

Story - Row over fishing rights leading to skirmishes at sea

Target - Sensationalised news

Message - Fishing disputes are being sensationalised by the media

Premise - What disputes were treated by families like real wars?

Technique used - Format shift (TV War Drama) / Logical Extreme

Sketch 6 - Parliament hotline

Story - MPs are to get a free 24hr hotline to help them deal with their problems

Target - Karen Bradley

Message - Karen Bradley doesn't know anything about her new NI brief

Premise - What if...Karen Bradley was really stupid and phone the hotline for help

Technique used - Format shift (Telephone hotline) / Logical Extreme

Sketch 7 - Jamie Oliver gets burgled

Story - Jamie Oliver apprehends a burglar

Target - Jamie Oliver

Message - Jamie Oliver is really annoying

Premise - What if...Jamie Oliver tried to teach the burglar to cook

Technique used - Opposite expectations (A victim annoys a burglar)

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Looking for more on the art of writing comedy? Check out our comedy secrets blog, sign up for one of our courses or ask us to write you a script report!