Shane Allen, BBC’s director of comedy, is leaving the broadcaster to team with recently departed head of comedy commissioning Kate Daughton to launch a new outfit.
Boffola Pictures Limited will specialize in scripted comedy and comedy drama and is backed by Lookout Point.
The BBC will begin recruitment immediately for a new director of comedy. Allen is due to leave in August. Kate Phillips, director of BBC entertainment, will now oversee new scripted comedy commissioning decisions while Allen oversees ongoing productions and works on the BBC Comedy Association’s inaugural year plans for a city of comedy, appointment of a Young People’s Comedy Laureate and the TV re-boot of The New Comedy Awards.
At BBC Comedy Allen commissioned a range of hits including “Fleabag,” “Man Like Mobeen,” “Detectorists,” “Peter Kay’s Car Share,” “This Country,” “The Young Offenders,” “Upstart Crow,” “Inside Number 9” and “Famalam.” During his tenure, he oversaw a period in which BBC Comedy won the National Television Awards’ comedy category back to back since 2012 and BAFTA for scripted comedy back to back from 2012-2018.
Allen has also been instrumental in launching a range of new initiatives from BBC One’s Comedy Playhouses, BBC Two’s New On Two strand and Comedy Slices and Threesomes on BBC Three. An opportunities champion, he launched The Felix Dexter Bursary for diverse talent, The Galton & Simpson Bursary geared towards mental health support, and The Caroline Aherne Bursary whose inaugural winner Sophie Wilan is one of the BAFTA nominees this year with “Alma’s Not Normal.” In 2021, Allen established the BBC Comedy Association to enable emerging talent on and off screen.
Allen said: “I’ve felt like a competition winner every single day working with the cream of creative talents at the broadcaster which is so synonymous with the story of British comedy. Now feels an opportune time to start a new career chapter as the world opens up again and British comedy talents continue to take the world by storm.”
“Shane is an extraordinary creative whose passion for spotting exciting new talent and pushing comedy boundaries has had a remarkable impact on the whole British comedy industry for the best part of a decade,” said Charlotte Moore, BBC’s chief content officer. “From ‘Fleabag’ to ‘Car Share,’ ‘This Country’ to ‘People Just do Nothing,’ ‘Inside No 9,’ and ‘Motherland’ to ‘Famalam,’ the range, the quality and the sheer ambition of BBC Comedy has kept audiences laughing year in year out.”
“His pioneering work to support new talent has led to a golden age for British comedy, winning more awards, launching more new voices on the global stage and commissioning more hits than any other broadcaster,” Moore added. “He leaves BBC Comedy in rude health but we owe Shane a great debt of gratitude and I won’t be alone in saying I will miss him greatly both personally and professionally.”