Bridget Jones star shares sketch writing tips with students

Star of Smack the Pony, I’m Alan Partridge, and Miranda, Sally Phillips visited Roehampton to share tips with ‘the next generation of sketch writers’ in her seminar entitled ‘Smacking the Pony and Flogging a Dead Horse’.

Posted: 8 January 2015

image for news story Bridget Jones star shares sketch writing tips with students
Sally Phillips with some of Roehampton’s creative writing students after her sketch writing seminar.

Ms Phillips spoke to the crowded room of students about her own career and how she first got into sketch writing. She shared YouTube clips from her early work as well as some favourites from her Emmy awarding winning show Smack the Pony.

Ms Phillips urged Roehampton students, who she referred to as ‘the next generation of sketch writers’, to write about what they love, and explained how to construct a script for a sketch which will work on television. Discussing her time sketch writing on Smack the Pony, she said it was important for her to develop some rules in order to create a unique selling point for the show and urged students to think about what rules they may want when writing their own sketches.

She contacted friends and colleagues working in the business to ask for their tips which she also shared with the students. Cardinal Burns producer, Jenna James said a good script should always have an element of surprise, but also warned against mistakes writers can make such as not writing sketches for women and using ideas that have been used as scripts for other shows.

Comedian Holly Walsh advises to always keep sketches to less than three minutes. Whereas, Alexander Smith from the BBC advises to cut through the waffle – for her, the quicker you can get to the joke the better.

Professor Laura Peters, Head of English and Creative Writing at the University said: “Sally brought an invaluable amount of real-world TV experience to our students, which they benefited from hugely. Hearing the inside line about Smack the Pony and her other work really fired people’s excitement for their own studying.

“Embedding employment skills in our students, and giving them the most realistic understanding of how to get ahead in their careers is vital to the university experience. That’s why we host professionals who can give a trusted perspective because they have ‘been there, done that’ and become successful. “

Ms Phillips spent time speaking to individual students after the seminar, advising them on where they can submit their scripts.

The hour-long seminar took place at the University of Roehampton on Wednesday 7 January was attended by over 60 students and staff.

Find out more about studying creative writing at the University of Roehampton.

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