5 June 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network

Sideline Makes Major Move Into Comedy
27 Sep 2012 : By Steve Cummins
John Henerson will head up Sideline's new Comedy Division
Sideline productions, the Irish television production company, behind Irish TV formats such as ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Mastermind’, is to spread its wings further into comedy with the launch of a new Comedy Division.

The new division will develop Irish comic writers, performers, scripts and talent with the aim of producing comedy projects that might be commissioned for broadcast in Ireland or in the UK.

Operating “under the radar” for the coming months, the division will have an eye on producing comedy for radio, TV, film and the web while developing projects with new and established talent, sketch groups, brands and broadcasters across all platforms.

The Comedy Division at Sideline will be headed up by John Henderson who has been writing and performing comedy for nearly 20 years and is a long-time collaborator of Irish comedian Jason Byrne.

Henderson most recently scripted links on Sideline’s TV3 show 'Take Me Out' and last year scripted all 32 episodes of 'Craig Doyle Live' for RTÉ.

He will work alongside Sideline’s entertainment producer and developer Dee Ellis whose credits include ‘The Panel’ for RTÉ and BBC show ‘Ask Rhod Gilbert’.

Ellis recently produced the production company’s pilot show with The Rubberbandits for Channel 4, which is the first ever scripted comedy produced by an Irish production company directly for a UK broadcaster.

That pilot will be broadcast on Channel 4 in November with Sideline hoping to have “three or four” comedy shows for pitch to coincide with the air-date.

The Comedy Division will be overseen by Sideline co-founder and creative director Billy McGrath who has a long history of involvement in the comedic art-form as a writer, performer, producer, and as a former commissioning editor of entertainment with RTÉ.

McGrath told IFTN that as well as seeking “good scripted-comedy” for development, the new division is also actively in development for an original TV sketch series aimed at the UK market and is scouting writers / actors / comedians.

He said Sideline is also pitching sponsorship opportunities to a select group of brands for online comedy webisodes and a student talent search.

The company, McGrath said, will also option the best commercial comedy scripts and “invest in training courses for performers and especially writers who we feel have potential for a long term career in stand up, TV, online and/or film”.

The announcement of the new division comes at a time of expansion for Sideline. Having launched a new company website, the production hub has also moved to a bigger office next door to its original premises in Ranelagh with the new building set to incorporate a training/ writing room to help develop new talent.

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