The Comedy Awards for Stand Up to Cancer

Friday:The National Comedy Awards for Stand Up to Cancer; (Channel 4, 9pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 5:00 pm
Hosted by Tom Allen
Hosted by Tom Allen

Back in August, the comedy world lost one of its most popular stars as Sean Lock passed away, aged 58, after losing his battle with cancer.

Now, four months on, the late comic has been nominated for a National Comedy Award for his work on Channel 4 panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Sean will be up against Mo Gilligan, Mike Wozniak and James Acaster for the Outstanding Male Comedy Entertainment Performance gong, and surely not even his fellow nominees would begrudge a posthumous honour to the man Ricky Gervais called “one of the funniest, most influential comedians of a generation”.

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The NCAs are seen as a successor to the British Comedy Awards, which were given out every year from 1990 to 2014.

Lock was named Best Live Comic in 2000, and over the years, the ceremonies included such memorable moments as Spike Milligan calling Prince Charles ‘a little grovelling b******’ for sending him a congratulatory message, Ali G wearing a tracksuit ‘owned’ by Jimmy Savile, and Julian Clary’s sexually explicit joke about Chancellor Norman Lamont.

Usually hosted by Jonathan Ross, they were broadcast on ITV until 2010 – except for 2007, when they remained off-screen because of a scandal over phone-in votes two years earlier.

Now after a seven-year break, Channel 4 are rebooting the glitzy occasion with a slightly different name.

Hosted by Tom Allen, they are being held this time at the Camden Roundhouse, and still promise to honour both emerging and established British comedy talent.

Although tributes to Lock could run through the evening, dominating the nominations is Netflix favourite Sex Education with five including Best Scripted Comedy.

Its stars Emma Mackey and Asa Butterfield are in the running for Outstanding Comedy Actress and Actor respectively, with Ncuti Gatwa and Aimee Lou Wood listed for Outstanding Supporting Role.

Hit BBC comedy Ghosts follows closely behind with four nods, and it’s also competing for Best Scripted Comedy, with This Way Up and Motherland rounding off the field.

Charlotte Ritchie is on the shortlist for Outstanding Comedy Actress, along with Aisling Bea, Anjana Vasan and Mackey, while Matthew Baynton faces off with Butterfield, Greg Davies and Lee Mack in the actor category.

8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown is also shortlisted for the Best Comedy Entertainment Show, alongside Taskmaster, Rob And Romesh Vs and Would I Lie To You?, while Daisy May Cooper, Rosie Jones, Katherine Ryan and Sandi Toksvig are up for the Outstanding Female Comedy Entertainment Performance.

Meanwhile, in the Best Comedy Podcast category, Off Menu with James Acaster and Ed Gamble, My Therapist Ghosted Me, Shagged Married Annoyed and Rob Beckett & Josh Widdecombe’s Parenting Hell battle it out.

Plus, Gervais is up against Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan, Mo Gilligan and Jason Manford for Best Stand-Up Show.

Finally, in the Comedy Breakthrough Performer category, Judi Love, Joanne McNally, Munya Chawawa, Rosie Jones and Rose Matafeo are the nominees.

Aside from the coveted awards themselves, which are decided by votes from the British public, the NCAs promise to bring some of the country’s best-loved funny people together for a night celebrating what has been a year of much-needed laughter.

And best of all, it’s all for a good cause – Stand Up to Cancer – which couldn’t be more appropriate on the night Sean Lock’s peers and fans will pay tribute to him.

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