The Rule of Three: Sitcom Families1 minute read

I’ve been listening to an excess of the Rule of Three podcast recently. As a podcast about comedy writing, it’s pretty much perfect audio for a comedy writer. I make a lot of notes.

(For those of you who are new here, I am one half of the comedy writing duo behind BBC Radio sitcom Foiled – permanently unavailable on BBC Sounds. Series 4 will be out in September — assuming I stop listening to podcasts and actually start writing…)

In an excellent episode with Katy Brand, Rule of Three hosts Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley discuss the concept of the ‘sitcom family’. The characters don’t have to be literal family — although in a lot of cases they are — but sitcoms are often built around family-type dynamics.

For those of you familiar with Foiled, you’ll recognise that the characters are, at heart, a classic Sitcom Family.

  • Tariq (played by Garnon Davies) is the ‘dad’
  • Roger (Miles Jupp) is the ‘loose-cannon stepfather’
  • Tanisha (Stephanie Siadatan) is the ‘mum’
  • Richie (David Oakes) is the ‘older child’
  • Sabrina (Beth Granville) is the ‘younger child’
  • Frankie (Garnon Davies again) is the ‘youngest child’

These roles weren’t always in the writing. We didn’t go into the process thinking, ‘We need an older child, who can that be?’

In the first scripts, on the page, there wasn’t an awful lot to Tariq’s character. It was only at the read-through, when Garnon played Tariq as a world-weary, dead-pan ‘dad’, that the character and, more importantly, the ‘sitcom family’ dynamics clicked into place.

Garnon gave us a ‘dad’ that we hadn’t even realised we needed. Genius.

One more thing…

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at davidcharles.info.

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