The Project

This three-year research project (January 2012 to December 2014) examines the nature of creativity within the British television comedy industry by exploring the working practices of industry professionals, and the industrial, institutional and policy contexts that shape and inform what they do.

Much thinking on the creative industries prioritises the individual. Yet individuals' work must take into account the needs of both the industries within which they work and broader economic and policy contexts. This relationship between the individual and the industrial system within which they work is a ripe site for the investigation of creativity.

As the industry is best understood by working with those individuals who are required to be creative, this project focusses on the reflections of writers, producers, directors, commissioners and other industry personnel whose livelihood is dependent on creative labour.

Key Questions

How do workers in the British television comedy industry foster, manage and capitalise on their creativity?

How do workers respond to the industrial and organisation structures within which they work, especially in terms of economics, policy and career ambitions?

How can analysis of individuals' creative processes contribute towards academic, policy and governmental understandings of the television comedy industry and its workers?

How can the activities of comedy workers be better supported, with reference to the industrial and organisational structures within which they work?


The project is funded by a research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and is housed within the School of Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia, a world-leading department for the study of contemporary media and popular culture.

The British television comedy industry is a ripe site for such analysis because of the wealth of creativity required by everyone who works within it, the central role of comedy to British culture, the preponderance of independent production companies that make up the television comedy industry, and the diversity of the kinds of programmes that are made.

Therefore, we're working with many people who work in the television comedy industry, so we can get an insight into how they go about their jobs every day, the pleasures they get from such work, and the projects they're working on.


We're doing lots of interviews with such workers, but also mapping the development of television comedy projects so we can see what processes these go through, and the strategies workers employ in order to deal with them.


Thinking About Creativity

The UK Government sees the creative industries - including television comedy - as central to policy, especially at a time of economic uncertainty. Research by the Work Foundation demonstrates the roles creative work plays in society and its contribution to the UK workforce and economy.


Aims and Outcomes

To work with members of the television comedy industry so that what they do and why they do it can be better understood.
To produce reports, articles and other outputs to be distributed to broadcasting organisations, regulators, and other relevant bodies, thereby contributing to ongoing debates about supporting the creative industries and those who work within it.
To unearth the factors that make comedy workers' jobs more difficult, and to explore how policy, industrial and other factors could be better structured to encourage and support creative work and the comedy industry.

Creativity in the British Television Comedy Industry

Make Me Laugh