Noel Fielding, Chris Addison and the stars of The Inbetweeners have all been given new shows by Channel 4.
They are all benefiting from an extra £5million being pumped into the broadcaster’s comedy budget next year to help fill the gap left by Big Brother.
Head of comedy Shane Allen last night revealed some of the projects, including a new E4 comedy from Fielding provisionally called Boopus.
A video shown to a select audience of C4 staff, producers, writers, performers and journalists showed the Boosh star as a stingray, discussing the recording of albums.
Fielding said: 'I want to make something in the spirit of Spike Milligan or the Kenny Everett Show but using modern techniques. Blending filmed comedy with animation.'
Television needs a madman! I want the show to be psychedelic and beautiful but have charm and personality. If Dali made a show hopefully it would look like this.'
Meanwhile Chris Addison is to host a new panel game called Show And Tell.
The programme, to be produced by Avalon, mixes topical news highlights from the week with personal experience stories from both the audience and comedian guests, who are asked to bring along items to accompany their stories.
Allen billed the show as an antidote to Mock The Week, with a more supportive atmosphere in contrast to the competitive spirit of the BBC Two show.
Commissioning editor Nerys Evans said: ‘The beauty of this format is that it’s loose and unconstrained, giving new talent a chance to shine...think four funny people bouncing off each other rather than point scoring. It gives their comedy potential the space to breathe. Chris Addison is a comic at the top of his game, he's a complete natural with an amazingly sharp and warm wit, he’s the perfect host for a show of this kind.’
And Inbetweeners stars Simon Bird and Joe Thomas have been reunited with sometime comedy partner Jonny Sweet for a Comedy Showcase pilot provisionally called Chickens.
The show is about three young men who avoid combat in the First World War – one as a conscientious objector, one on health grounds and one who's a 'philandering scaredicat' – who are then shunned by their local community.
Kenton Allen, chief executive of producers Big Talk Productions said: ‘I've seen the future of comedy, and I'm afraid to say it's Simon, Joe and Jonny shaped. They are a delight to work with, have razor sharp comedy minds and Chickens promises to be very special indeed.’
Channel 4’s upcoming schedule also includes Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights, mixing controversial stand-up with sketches; newcomer Morgana Robinson’s prime-time sketch show The Morgana Show; the university-set ensemble piece Campus; Jewish sitcom of embarrassment, starring Tamsin Greig, Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal; and Robert’s Web, in which Robert Webb looks the internet.
Meanwhile IT Crowd, Peep Show and Fonejacker return – Peep Show becoming the longest-running C4 sitcom ever – alongside Pete versus Life and PhoneShop.
Allen said: ‘Channel 4 continues to lead the way in comedy by backing new talent and giving established names the creative freedom to take risks. We are able to give Frankie, Noel and Chris the space to try out new things and want talent to bring their passion projects to us.
‘We value our long term relationships with people of the calibre of Victoria Pile, working with Channel 4 on her first new comedy series since Green Wing [Campus], or Graham Linehan, on the fourth series of the IT Crowd, or Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong on their record-breaking seventh series of Peep Show; just as much as we love uncovering new talent like Morgana Robinson and [Facejacker’s] Kayvan Novak.’
'Channel 4´s investment in comedy has risen sharply in the last two years - 2011 spend will be almost double 2009 levels - and the space Big Brother leaves puts us in the happy position of having even more hours to fill. Just as well because, God knows, we could all do with a laugh at the moment. ‘
Channel 4’s sister channels also have new programmes. Arrested Development’s David Cross and Will Arnett star alongside Pulling’s Sharon Horgan in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret on More4, while E4 launches Meet The Parents, a part scripted, part improved prank show in which boyfriends are confronted by their prospective in-laws, who unbeknownst to them, are actually a cast of actors trying to make the evening uncomfortable.
Channel 4 will also air The British Comedy Awards for the first time, moving it to early in 2011, later than the pre-Christmas position it traditionally held on ITV.