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UKTV's Dave to sponsor Leicester Comedy Festival

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UKTV's male-orientated TV channel Dave has agreed a deal to sponsor the Leicester Comedy Festival, as part of its "evolution" as an entertainment brand.

The Leicester Comedy Festival, the UK's longest-running festival devoted to comedy, turns 19 next year and will be rebranded as 'Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival'.

The event started in 1994 with 40 events over seven days, but has since grown to 370 shows in 50 different venues over 17 days and attracting around 60,000 people.

Various top names have performed at the festivals, including Roseanne Barr, Jo Brand, Paul Merton, Jack Dee, Simon Pegg, Rory Bremner, Bill Bailey and Harry Hill.

It has also hosted a range of unusual shows, such as John Ryan performing in two Leicestershire prisons; Stewart Lee debating Jerry Springer the Opera in Leicester Cathedral; and Comedy in the Dark.

Dave, the UKTV G2 channel which was successfully rebranded in 2007, has recently aligned itself with comedy as part of its "home of witty banter" slogan.

Steve North, Dave's general manager, said that the sponsorship deal with the Leicester Comedy Festival was the "next step in our evolution as a great entertainment brand".

"Since launching in 2007, Dave has been committed to an ethos of support for quality comedy, from Dave's Comedy Society Live to the prestigious Dave Joke of the Fringe in Edinburg," said North.

"We're proud to be taking the next step in our evolution as a great entertainment brand – both on and off the telly - by announcing our headline sponsorship of the hugely credible Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival."

Festival founder and director Geoff Rowe added: "As the longest-running comedy festival in Europe, it's been a pleasure to work with some of the best stand up comedians over the past 19 years.

"We've also developed a tradition of producing original and special events which can't be seen anywhere else. The festival has become a crucial part of the UK's live comedy scene. I'm delighted to be announcing the sponsorship with Dave, which will allow us to grow and develop the festival over future years."

Dave has proved a success for UKTV since 2007, but the channel is currently locked in a legal battle over its branding after losing a trademark battle with a brand consultancy of the same name.

> Virgin Media sells UKTV stake to Scripps

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