Meet the Welsh comic who has won the BBC New Comedy Awards
A Welsh comedian hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest names in comedy after she was named as the winner of the prestigious BBC New Comedy Awards.
Since it was first launched in 1995, the contest has helped launch the careers of many of the UK’s best-loved comedians such as John Bishop, Sarah Millican, Peter Kay, Jason Manford and Joe Lycett.
Anna Thomas, from Burry Port, saw off competition from more than 1000 applicants, with 30 battling it out in regional heats, and six finalists pitting their wit against each other in the grand final, which was televised on BBC One.
The comic advanced through her heat at Swansea’s Patti Pavilion to the final at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre and Opera House, where she was chosen as the winner by judges Sophie Duker, Lauren Pattison and Mawaan Rizwan.
A tearful Anna, who was speechless when her name was announced, impressed the judges with her quirky, offbeat humour.
Thomas wins £1000 and a commission for a 30 minute radio pilot. She now hopes to pursue comedy as a full-time career.
The 28-year-old, originally from Parc y Minos, in Burry Port, explained how comedy helped her through a difficult time.
“I got ill in 2015, I got glandular fever whilst I was at university, and sort of hit rock bottom,” she told WalesOnline. “Whilst I was recovering I was doing any job that would take me jumping from job to job feeling dead rubbish about myself as I was not really applying myself to anything.
“In that time I was watching loads of comedy and stuff because that was my comfort, and listening to loads and loads of comedy podcasts and listening to that and how comedians started, I thought, I have got absolutely nothing to lose, why don’t I just give that a go – I love comedy, shall I just try it?”
It was a comedy course that gave her the confidence to take it further.
“I saw this comedy course at the Frog and Bucket in Manchester, and just applied for it on a whim, forgot about it, then a couple of months later it was like, ‘Oh, that’s happening!’. It was a six-week course and at the time I was working in McDonalds and doing a lot of night shifts. I was doing like 10pm until 6am shifts on a Friday night, then go up to Manchester and do the course – it was a very strange time but it was fantastic.
“After the course I kept going to open mics and stuff and just kept turning up and doing whatever gigs would have me. I haven’t stopped.”
She said her mother is a big comedy influence.
“For my material I draw a lot from my mother and how she just comes out with some daft stuff. The more I get older the more I appreciate it.
“When I was a teenager I was like ‘Mam, can you stop doing that’, daft, daft stuff, but my mam is a big inspiration. And then, people who just embrace the more colourful, creative bits of comedy. I love Joe Lycett, Sean Lock, Bob Mortimer, Bridget Christie, people who are a bit different.”
Watch Anna in the final of the BBC New Comedy Awards HERE