ITV has given the green light to a new Russell Tovey sitcom set in an unemployment office.
The broadcaster has ordered six hour-long episodes of The Job Lot – making it the first mainstream comedy it has commissioned since Benidorm in 2007.
ITV1 has vowed to make a ‘big splash’ in comedy, after several fallow years, and also today announced a post-watershed comedy provisionally called Great Night Out.
The Job Lot is being made by Big Talk Productions, whose credits include Rev and Him & Her, which also starred Tovey. It also made the stand-up talent hunt Show Me The Funny for ITV last year.
Set in a West Midlands job centre, the show will also star Miranda's Sarah Hadland, stand-up Jo Enright (also recently seen in Life’s Too Short), Sophie McShera from Downton Abbey and Tony Maudsley from Benidorm. It is written by Claire Downes, Ian Jarvis and Stuart Lane.
Executive producer Kenton Allen said: 'The moment I read the script I immediately thought The Job Lot was a comedy idea that captured the spirit of these times and could be the answer to ITV’s ambitions to reignite primetime comedy on ITV1.'
ITV1 has also ordered a six episodes of Great Night Out, about four thirtysomething drinking buddies in Stockport, written by Worst Week of My Life creators Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni.
Made by Hat Trick Productions, it will star Will Ash, Stephen Walters, Craig Parkinson and Lee Boardman and also features Ricky Tomlinson.
And tomorrow the broadcaster is recording a pilot of Naked House, starring Jason Manford as a recession-hit man who has to move his family back in with his parents – who have become naturists Since Chortle first reported on this show, Russ Abbott and Jan Francis have joined the cast as Manford’s parents.
ITV director of entertainment and comedy Elaine Bedell told trade magazine Broadcast that the network had a renewed appetite for comedy.
She said: ‘We dropped out of the comedy game and it feels like there has been incompleteness in the schedule. It’s now the genre we want to make a big splash in.
‘Comedy is difficult – it’s risky, exposed and you need to hold your nerve when they come on air. We will not be too quick to judge.’
ITV is also planning a Comedy Playhouse-style series of one-off sitcom pilots next year, which will focus on star names and writers.
The company’s newfound enthusiasm for comedy follows Sky’s spending spree on new sitcoms such as Stella and Trollied.