2 november 2005

Armando Iannucci named as Oxford University's next Broadcast Media Professor

Comedy writer and producer Armando Iannucci has been appointed as Oxford University's next News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media. Armando's lecture series, entitled 'British TV Comedy: Dead or Alive?' will begin on 24 January 2006.

The Visiting Professorship is associated with the English Faculty and Green College. Armando will hold the Chair for the academic year 2005-06.

Scottish-born Armando Iannucci is a comic writer, performer, director and producer. He wrote and produced On The Hour; Knowing Me, Knowing You and The Day Today, and wrote and directed I'm Alan Partridge. He wrote and presented the Friday and Saturday Night Armistice shows on BBC2, The Armando Iannucci Shows on Channel 4, and Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive on BBC Radio 4. He has just finished making the second series of his acclaimed satirical comedy on politics and spin, The Thick of It, which started on 20 October on BBC4. The first series will be aired on BBC2 during January and February 2006.

Armando gained his degree at University College, Oxford, and began his career working for BBC Radio Scotland before moving to BBC Radio 1 as a producer on shows such as The Mary Whitehouse Experience in the eighties. He has been a key figure in British radio and television comedy throughout the nineties and to the present day. He has won two Sony Radio Awards and three British Comedy Awards, one of which was a special award for his contribution to television comedy. He and Chris Morris were jointly awarded a 1992 Writers' Guild award for On the Hour.

Discussing the theme of his lecture series, which will be given in Oxford during January and February 2006, Armando said: 'If British TV has a heritage, then comedy is its most precious commodity. Most people's lists of the best television from the past forty years invariably have great moments of comedy at the top. Today, though, British Television Comedy is at a crossroads. Just as it gets more daring and varied in format and technique, and just as audiences get more and more sophisticated in the breadth of comedy they're willing to watch, viewing figures for comedy shows are in decline. Less comedy is being made for the mass audience channels BBC1 and ITV, while the commissioning of comedy shows is increasingly in the hands of TV professionals from outside comedy production, under pressure from advertisers and schedulers not to take risks. And reality TV has recently shown that mass audiences can be won over by programmes far cheaper to make than the average comedy show. Over the next five years, TV comedy has the chance either to reclaim the mass-appeal, large viewing-figure slots that were previously theirs by right, or become a fragmented web of innovative, interesting but niche programmes. These lectures will outline precisely how British TV comedy arrived at this crossroads, and the possible routes it can take.'