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Newsjack Series 19, Episode 2 - What the sketch?

· Tips,Comedy,Writing,Newsjack,Sketch

Part 2 of our series of articles exploring the sketches used on series 19 of Newsjack...

After a cracking Ep 1 we're well into the swing of things as we hit Ep 2, which sees a different production team. Nick Coupe takes over from Adnan Ahmed (working alongside Hayley Sterling) and former and current BBC Bursary holders Max Davies and Mike Shepherd (respectively) take on script-editing duties.

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

A reminder - each week I'll be looking briefly at each of the broadcast sketches to summarise their key ingredients - Instalment 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 Summaries - Episode 2

Sketch 1 - Boris cab driver

Story - Boris Johnson criticises say Theresa May is putting Britain on track for a car crash Brexit

Target - Boris Johnson's approach to life, politics and Brexit

Message - Boris is a privileged toff who always gets away with it

Premise - What if...Boris Johnson was actually a cab driver

Technique used - Context shift (Boris as a cabbie)

Sketch 2 - Church Wonga

Story - The Church of England are looking at plans to buy Wonga's loan book

Target - The Church

Message - If the Church come calling they want your time not your money

Premise - What if...the Church of England came to collect on the loans?

Technique used - Context shift (Church as loan collectors)

Sketch 3 - Vine Cable almost resigning

Story - Vince Cable said they he will some point

Target - Vince Cable

Message - Vince Cable is a tease

Premise - What if...Vince cable teased us in everything he says?

Technique used - Logical extreme (virtually the same as the John McDonnell sketch in Ep 1!)

Sketch 4 - Trope Poldark

Story - Geologists have discovered that Cornwall and South Devon used to be part of France

Target - Poldark / living in Cornwall

Message - Poldark is very trope-ish in how it portrays living in Cornwall

Premise - What if...we explore the story as if it were an episode of Poldark?

Technique used - Format shift (TV show - Poldark)

(N.B. this sketch wasn't really about the story itself, but was a good excuse to satirise Poldark!)

Sketch 5 - Generation sensible

Story - New research suggests that 18-year-olds are more likely to be in the library than the pub

Target - Parents of millennials

Message - Parents expect their kids to behave as badly as them

Premise - What if...18 year-olds were super-sensible and nice on holiday?

Technique used - Logical extreme / Format shift (TV show - Sun, Sex & Suspicious parents)

Sketch 6 - Salisbury Cathedral

Story - Russian nerve-agent attack suspects said were in Salisbury to visit the cathedral

Target - Snobbish venue owners

Message - When somewhere becomes popular everyone wants a piece of the action

Premise - What if...Salisbury Cathedral became over-booked?

Technique used - Logical extreme

Sketch 7 - NHS staff retention

Story - The NHS is losing up to 2,000 mental health professionals a month

Target - Staff losses in the NHS

Message - Staff losses will mean unqualified staff will end up treating mental health issues

Premise - What qualified staff were left to treat mental health issues?

Technique used - Logical extreme

Sketch 8 - Tony Blair line Autobiography

Story - The screenwriter of 'The Queen' accuses Tony Blair of stealing lines from his film script

Target - Tony Blair

Message - Tony Blair steals lines from other writers

Premise - What if...Tony Blair stole the words for his autobiography from lots of famous movies?

Technique used - Logical extreme