Foiled Series 2: A Sitcom Writer’s Diary

The half term holiday was the perfect opportunity for Beth and I to go down to Wales, breathe the comic airs and get started on series two of Foiled.

The temptation, of course, was to treat the half term holiday as, well, a holiday – and there were indeed blows along the respective proms of Barry and Penarth, as well as long cups of tea in the terrace sunshine. But sitcoms, even radio sitcoms, have to start somewhere. And ours, however leisurely, started here.

While writing the first radio series last year and the Edinburgh show in 2016, our first instinct as nervous writers was to open up an empty project on Celtx and just start writing. Cue structural meltdown: a week later if lucky, two months later if not.

This time around, we hardly put anything down on paper in four days. Instead we talked. And talked and talked and laughed. Then, when they were ready, and even when they weren’t, we shared our ideas with Beth’s family (great barometers of comedy) and talked some more.

Four days might sound like a long time to spend thinking, but as we’ve written more together, our process feels like it’s becoming both more confident, and more relaxed. We don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone – certainly not to each other.

The product of the week’s work? Rough beat-by-beat sketches of two episodes, and initial ideas for a third.

That might not sound like much, particularly if you’re used to copywriting deadlines or journalism, but for radio comedy I think the week was productive. Starting is one of the harder parts of the process and we now have a start. It’s something to conjure with, something to leave to our subconscious over the next few days and weeks before we do finally open up that empty Celtx project and start putting words down in earnest.

Both Beth and I are ardent students of comedy writing and, while she’s been working with the BBC Comedy Room over the last few months, I’ve been watching Youtube. This snippet from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s process is one of those pieces of advice so simple that it works.

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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

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