Case Studies: John Warburton

“The best advice would be to just get writing.”

John Warburton has a string of credits to his name including ‘City Life North West Comedian of The Year’. He was recently awarded a place on the BBC Comedy Writers’ Scheme. Currently in talks with TV production giants Baby Cow (‘The Mighty Boosh’) and Tiger Aspect (‘The Catherine Tate Show’), John is well-sought after in the world of comedy.

How did you get involved in the world of comedy writing?

“I trained as a journalist when I left uni because I always wanted to work as a writer. I worked on staff and freelance for all the national papers and I edited a lads’ mag for a while and got a job writing a comedy showbiz column. That’s when I realised I wanted to write comedy, and to write it for the telly. So I started doing stand-up comedy as a way to pay the bills while I worked on scripts. I’ve done other stuff along the way: ads and PR. I wrote the song for the Vimto ad about the lad who has to wear his dad’s undies to go swimming.”

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

“Through all the people I’ve ever met. I grew up in a pub on the edge of the Sinderland estate so I met a lot of characters in there. Working at a newspaper you meet people every day in bizarre circumstances.”

How has Trafford helped to shape your career?

“They built a couple of schools which I went to, you could count that and I once went to a writers’ group at Trafford General. My first work experience was on the Sale and Altrincham Messenger.”

How has your work been acknowledged and celebrated?

“I won City Life North West Comedian of the Year in 2004, which is the same award Peter Kay and Caroline Aherne won, and recently I was chosen from about 1,300 writers to take one of just six places on a new BBC comedy writing scheme writing for things like ‘My Family’ and ‘After You’ve Gone’”.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to build a career in writing?

“The path you take depends on the sort of writing you want to do. You can get work experience on a newspaper, but you can’t as a novelist. You can be trained to put together a press release, but no-one can teach you how to be funny. The best advice would be to just get writing, put together a portfolio of work you’re really proud of and try to speak to the people whose jobs you would love to have”.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

“I’m working on the second series of ‘Scallywagga’, a sketch show on BBC3, and I’m working as a lead writer on a new sketch show from Baby Cow, they’re the people who did ‘Gavin and Stacy’ and ‘The Mighty Boosh’. I’ve also just had two sitcom scripts optioned, one by the BBC and one by an independent production company. That means they pay you to write it as long as they get first dibs once you’ve finished it. I’m hoping to be working with Bains and Armstrong soon. They write ‘Peep Show’. Fingers crossed. That would be brilliant.

What does your future hold and what are your plans?

“I work for myself so there’s always uncertainty as to where the next work comes from. That’s why it’s important that you just keep writing and developing ideas. I’ve been hammering out the storyline of a film. I also write with a friend David Isaac who lives in Stretford. We got called down to fancy London recently by Tiger Aspect, who make The Catherine Tate show and Benidorm, to chat about a script they’re interested in.”

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