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Letter: The sitcom blues

Sir: ITV's recruitment of a "US sitcom guru" (report, 4 February) is their latest insult to home-grown comedy writers and an implicit admission of the failure of the network's own commissioning staff.

Britain has a proud tradition of original comedies driven by one or two writers, some of them even transferring successfully to the home of "guru" Tom Carsey. In addition, while the US may produce some excellent programmes, it also produces an ocean of dross. It is our fortune that we only see the few shows which float to the top of this vast reservoir of effluent.

Frankly it is scandalous that, instead of being able to trust their own judgement and feed new British writers a few hundred pounds of seed corn money to develop an initial script, ITV companies prefer to let our ideas rot in favour of spending a fortune on patronising, second-hand advice.

I could, at the drop of a hat, produce a list of new home-grown writers with original ideas and genuine ability, all of whom have proved themselves in live comedy, radio, or smaller scale TV. Last year, at one of London's highest-profile fringe venues, I organised an evening of new sitcoms. Not a single commissioning editor came. By contrast I wonder how many expenses-paid junkets to Los Angeles it took to sign Mr Carsey.


London E8