The Female Pilot Club hopes to amplify women’s voices, and give women writers the chance to prove their jokes and characters in the room, with the undeniable sound of laughter.
We aim to help get great female-written comedy on the telly where it belongs.
What’s the club’s mission?
The Club was founded to address inequality. Female writers continue to face challenges pursuing careers in the film and television industry. Individual successes, though very welcome, can make it seem like women writers are doing just fine, but the research tells another story. The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) revealed in their 2018 Gender Inequality and Screenwriters report that only 17% of comedy films made in the UK had at least one female writer, and that just 11% of TV sitcoms were predominantly female-written.
The report, 'Equality Writes' (2017) noted that 'Bias and specific hiring and monitoring problems within the film and TV industries are creating a self-sustaining loop of gender inequality'.
In comedy writers’ rooms the anecdotal evidence is that female comedy writers are likely to be one-of-a-kind. Nearly four out of five of all respondents to the WGGB report disagreed with the statement that “the way writers are hired, and scripts are commissioned, is fair and free from discrimination”.
Female writers have stated that they find it hard to compete with male writers who have accumulated more credits because of historic discrimination. This perpetuates the male dominated culture within comedy.
"Producers often don’t know how to expand their circle of female writers with whom they work and many feel frustrated that they know only a small pool of talent upon which to draw." (Saskia Schuster)
Why do we need a Female Pilot Club?
Writers get to hear their pilots really fly - brought to life by brilliant comic actors – they can hear from a live audience what works and what needs work. Producers and commissioners can get to hear about writers they may not know and hear just how funny their scripts can be. Then writers and producers can come together to make the scripts even better, and crucially, get them made.
How does the Female Pilot Club help?
Don’t take our word for it! Read the trip reviews from the writers who’ve flown with us so far.
Does it really work?
The Female Pilot Club meets to stage readings of brilliant out-of-option comedy scripts, starring the best and brightest of British comic talent. The pilot scripts we take up for a spin are all written by women.
In association with Comedy 50:50 we set up the club as a response to the stubbornly intractable problem of under-representation of female writers in TV comedy.
Since June 2019 we have staged four total sell-out read-throughs of eight comedy pilot scripts, to an audience of writers, producers and comedy lovers. The writers range from first-timers to Emmy-award winners.
We can only meet because of the incredible actors who donate their time and talent to the cause.
Who can fly with us?
If you identify as a woman writer and have a brilliant comedy script that deserves an airing, send your script here.
If you want to come to see a show or if you're an actor wanting to take part, find out how to Fly With Us.
We are women writers, performers and script consultants. We’ve had a lot of luck in our careers but we wished something like the Female Pilot Club existed – a place where our scripts could go on a test flight with the brilliant casts they deserve, a place women could encourage and promote each other’s work, share jokes, discuss scripts and show off. We wanted to amplify hilarious female voices, to share them with producers and commissioners and, we hope, to be part of getting great female-written shows on TV where they belong. Up, up and away!
Kay Stonham is a comedy writer-performer. On TV she's written for comedies including Harry Enfield and Chums (BBC1) My Family (BBC 1)and Comedy Award-winning Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression (BBC 1)
Kids shows include the multi award-winning Shaun the Sheep and Millie In-between (CBBC). She’s appeared in TV shows like The Young Ones (BBC2) Dead Ringers (BBC 1) and People Like Us (BBC2).
Kay created three original series for radio, Audio Dairies, Robin and Wendy’s Wet Weekends, and Bad Salsa (BBC Radio4). She is currently developing a new comedy drama and adapting the best selling book What Would Boudicca Do? for TV.
Abigail Burdess is a comedy writer-performer. TV writing includes Tracy Ullman’s Show (BBC1), Watson and Oliver (BBC2), and the BAFTA-winning That Mitchell & Webb Look (BBC2).
Kids' TV includes Sorry I’ve Got No Head (CBBC),So Beano (Sky TV) and Paddington (Nickelodeon).
She’s also appeared in TV and radio shows like Cuckoo (BBC3), Fresh Meat (C4) and The Musical Life Of (BBC Radio Wales).
Emily Chase is an actress and writer. She appeared in Bad Salsa (Radio 4) and her Youtube Channel, Bloody Comedy TV, gained nominations for the British Comedy Awards and The Funny Women Awards.
She has recently finished filming a comedy for Netflix.