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on 25 September 2012
I have just finished reading this book and have placed it on a shelf as a reference manual for future use. Very thought provoking - Marc draws upon years of script consultancy experience to pin point areas it is very easy to fall down on when constructing your script. For me, this was an essential read and has left me itching to get back and start again. Thanks for sharing your valuable industry insight. I hope to one day quote you in a work of my own.
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on 28 September 2015
This is essential reading for those serious about trying to crack the nut of situation comedy, all you need is this book, hard work, a modicum of talent and a never-give-up attitude Good luck
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on 6 July 2011
This is a very informative and well written book, I would recommend it to any aspiring sitcom writer. However, I do feel it's more usefully understood as a companion book to other books on writing sitcom. Once you have read a 'how to write a sitcom' book, THEN, and only then should this be read in my opinion.
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on 21 September 2011
I know the author having attended a comedy writing course at City University that Marc taught (he's a brilliant teacher by the way). I have just finished this book and am really impressed and extremely proud of him. It's gently amusing all the way through and has a number of laugh-out-loud-moments. It also provides very sound advice for the novice sitcom writer: don't reinvent the wheel until you have had your first show commissioned, then you can do things your way! I would recommend this book.
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on 23 December 2011
I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book immensely.
Well written, and extremely helpful on many levels.I would recommend this book to anyone who has a burning desire to be a sitcom writer or a writer in general it is an absolute must have.
Thank You Marc Blake, I will be keeping an eye open for forthcoming courses that you may be offering and I will be on one very very soon!!!
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on 26 October 2014
Pros:

Lots of helpful practical advice regarding literary agents, commissioning editors, producers and competitions (I'm not an industry insider myself but it all seems accurate and timely to me).

Interesting advice regarding the importance of story in sitcoms, the importance of 'monster' characters, care with characters' regional accents and other stuff that might not occur to many readers.

The advice is supported by a lot of first-hand experience and examples from many popular sitcoms.

There are quite a few tips from industry insiders, including Simon Nye.

His style of writing is conversational and often (but not always) amusing.

Cons:

The section on gags is probably the least helpful. Blake implies that stories and characters factor most heavily into a sitcom's success (or lack of) but that doesn't really excuse how little he writes on gags. Most the gags chapter, true to the book's title, is on gag-writing pitfalls (puns, excessive swearing and excessive toilet humour).

As another reviewer has pointed out, a large amount of the advice offered in this book is along the lines of "this is what has never worked, so don't attempt it. Oh, except in the case of these two really successful sitcoms, but they're just the exceptions."

Blake never backs up his claims with numbers so his opinions on sitcom trends seem really fallible (especially given it's easy to think up even more exceptions to his 'rules' than he gives) and at other times downright self-contradictory. Worse still: these observations of trends are offered up as guidance on what not to write and as reasons as to why some sitcoms failed. It reads too much like idle speculation.

Conclusion: the good bits (industry tips and most of the writing advice) are worth wading through the fluff for.
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on 30 October 2013
This book is great for novice screenwriters as it gives a good insight into the fundemental 'rules' of writing a sitcom. The book guides first time writers with good knowledge of British industry standards, which can help get your work read by agents and production companies.

Marc Blake provides a good script reading service as well, which I personally used and found very informative, with some very useful constuctive criticisms. I recommend contacting him via The British Comedy Guide website once you've got a tidy first draft, It's worth the money!
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on 27 October 2011
I found this a terrific read. It starts by giving some pretty basic information on writing and formatting which, being an experienced commissioned writer, I skimmed through. The rest is both a well-researched and informed history of sitcoms and a very helpful and instructive work. When I put it down I felt energised and ready to write. In this it cleverly doesn't 'do what it says on the tin' but instead equips you with all you need to know to write a successful sitcom.
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on 25 August 2011
Disappointingly unclear and ill-conceived: Mark Blake makes the same (confused) 5 points over and over again throughout his book, regularly contradicting himself in the same sentence. He generally constructs his argument by saying "Do X. We know X works because they did it in The Office/Peep Show/Only Fools and Horses/Friends. Don't do Y. We know Y doesn't work because no one's done it before." This is useful in terms of spotting examples of sitcom convention, but he never satisfyingly delves into the reasons behind the conventions, leaving the reader slightly mystified as to exactly what wisdom he's passing on besides "watch loads of sitcoms and do what they did, only different".

Blake assumes his reader is an arrogant, lazy 20 year old man. I'm an arrogant, lazy 20 year old man, but I found this book sexist and thoughtless. My favourite nugget of advice was "Don't forget: women are people too. So you have to give them proper characters, and not just make them plot devices." Also, "With women, it's not always just about chocolate. Though usually it is." Thanks, Mark for that searing insight. If I were reading this book as a woman, the clear message would be: leave the sitcom to the boys, you get on with being a Real Person. Here's some Dairy Milk to get you started.

If you're hoping for a clear and deeply reasoned deconstruction of sitcom mechanics, then don't bother with this book. I was hoping for a Britcom version of Snyder's Save The Cat or McKee's Story, but this book reads more like a pompous unfunny set of lecture notes (which I suspect is exactly what it is) than an astute and insightful guide to understanding and creating sitcom.
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on 27 October 2011
Another great read for budding sitcom writers from Marc Blake...with some great tips and nice little anecdotes from people in the know...if you're serious about getting into sitcom writing, TV or Radio I'd recomend this...It's not going to get you that first commission, only you can do that! But it's certainly will help you along the way, especially avoiding some of those common pitfalls. A great read.
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