Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning has announced twelve brand new comedy pilots under the revived banner of The Comedy Playhouse, which initially ran between 1961 and 1975 and spawned classic series such as Are You Being Served?, Last of the Summer Wine and Steptoe and Son.
New on Two resulted in full series commissions for Motherland and Johnny Vegas’s Home From Home (both series launch later this year) and Comedy Slices on BBC Three, which gave us People Just Do Nothing and A Brief History of Tim.
Shane Allen says: “Today I am announcing a dozen brand new pilot shows across the BBC portfolio featuring new and established talent with Comedy Playhouse on BBC One, New on Two on BBC Two and Comedy Slices on BBC Three. No broadcaster in the world is more committed to British comedy than the BBC with this extensive breadth of new shows to offer to audiences and amazing opportunities and initiatives for budding writers and performers like BBC Writersroom, the Salford Sitcom Showcase, the Felix Dexter Bursary, the Caroline Aherne Bursary for Funny Northern Women and the Radio 2 Comedy Awards.”
The brand new comedy pilots will play across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three.
The BBC One pilots will include Mister Winner starring Spencer Jones (Upstart Crow) as a well meaning but accident prone man whose nature constantly lands him in awkward situations, Tim Vine Travels Through Time starring Tim Vine as an antique shop owner who travels through time to get a golden arrow repaired by Robin Hood and Static starring Rob Beckett (8 Out of 10 Cats) as a twenty something who moves back in with his parents only to find they have sold their house and moved to a caravan in Margate.
On BBC Two the pilots will include Famalam, a sketch comedy show encompassing the entire universe and starring Vivienne Acheampong (The Aliens), Samson Kayo (Youngers) and John Macmillan (Dark Knight Rises), The Other One starring Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey), Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It) and Amit Shah (Hospital People) in a tale of two sisters who only learn of each others existence when their father dies and The Pact starring Sarah Solemani (Bridget Jones’ Baby) and Brett Goldstein (Derek) as two friends who made a pact as teenagers that they would marry when they reached 35 if they were both single.
The pilots on BBC Three will include Chinese Burn which follows the escapades of three ‘normal’ Chinese girls as they negotiate the trials of modern life in the Western World, Hailmakers a story of two friends trying to make their fortune from an empty bank account starring Akemnji Ndifornyen (The Javone Prince Show) and Samson Kayo (Youngers), Sticky, an animated sitcome following four friends in college who suddenly have to function without internet connectivity starring Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant), Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders) and Tony Way (Game of Thrones). BBC Three will also screen Celebrity Voicemail, an adaption of the Radio 4 Comedy show, Wannabe starring Lily Brazier (People Just Do Nothing) as a middle aged failed girl band member plotting a comeback and Enterprice starring Kayode Ewumi and Daniel Ezra as two entrepreneurs in the early stages of rolling out their home delivery business.
There is so much announced here that there is bound to be something for everyone in the BBC’s new season. It will be interesting to see the public reaction to many of these pilots and to see which are commissioned for full series runs.