Exclusive: BBC One orders King Gary series

Tom Davis's comedy picked up after a successful pilot

BBC One have picked up Tom Davis's sitcom King Gary for a series, Chortle can reveal.

The team behind Murder In Successville begin production on the comedy this weekend following a successful pilot that aired at Christmas.

The loosely autobiographical, 'warm-hearted family sitcom' stars former scaffolder Davis as builder Gary King, struggling to achieve social acceptance and material success in competitive suburbia.

Detectorists’ Laura Checkley plays 'drama queen' Gary's supportive wife Terri, with Simon Day as his overbearing father, Big Gary, and Romesh Ranganathan playing his rival neighbour Stuart.

Him & Her's Camille Coduri also returns from the pilot as Gary's mum Denise, while Neil Maskell plays his intense workmate Winkle. Joining the series are Dustin Demri-Burns, Emma Sidi, Mum's Lisa McGrillis and Mim Shaikh.

Davis wrote the six 30-minute episodes with his Murder In Successville collaborator James De Frond, who also directs, with Pls Like's Rupert Majendie producing for Shiny Button Productions.

Davis said: 'James and I are honoured to be given the opportunity to bring the world we’ve grown up around to BBC One. We were both blown away with the tip-top response to the pilot and can’t wait to get cracking with the series. We love writing these characters and it’s going to be an absolute joy to muck about in their world.’

Critics were broadly positive about the pilot. The Telegraph said the 'soufflé-light sitcom' benefited from 'some sharp writing backed up the gentle ribbing of competitive suburbia' and 'from having two likeable characters at its centre. I cared about Gary and Terri. I believed they were in love.'

The i newspaper concurred, noting that 'every stereotype in the book is on display here – beer bellies, gold chains and tattoos for the men; fake tan and ruthlessly plucked eyebrows … for their long-suffering but equally status-obsessed wives. Davis’ permanently shouty lead occasionally wears a bit thin. But crucially he and co-writer/director De Frond understand their character and basically like him enough to stop this becoming another "let’s laugh at the chavs" sitcom.'

Moreover, 'there’s a decent supply of zingers … and great support from Day – channelling Tommy Cockles and Competitive Dad from The Fast Show as Big Gary – and Romesh Ranganathan as the superbly insouciant (but possibly Machiavellian in secret) neighbour, responding to every tirade with an unconcerned "yeah, whatever, mate"'.

Shane Allen, controller of BBC comedy said: 'King Gary is big on laughs, big on heart and big on talent. Landing a mainstream family sitcom with a modern tone is a tough nut to crack but these scripts are bursting with great lines and well-earned set pieces. We look forward to Gary and Terri bringing cheer to a year of bafflement.'

Davis has also recently revealed that Murder In Successville is in line for a US remake - but won't be returning for a fourth series in the UK.

'It's sort of done really now' he told actor Craig Parkinson on his The Two Shot podcast. 'We've done three years of it, it was the most amazing journey, it was the most amazing thing to have been a part of, something that was so different. My whole career rests upon it.

'We've sold it to America now, so they can do their thing, but for me anyway I thought "That last series had three amazing incredible episodes, two that were brilliant but probably not as good as they could have been." You don't want to be doing [series] four and five and it starts to creak and you start not loving it.’

- by Jay Richardson

King Gary
Production Credits

Written by: Tom Davis and James De Frond
Made by: Shiny Button Productions
Commissioned for the BBC by:  Controller of Comedy Shane Allen and Commissioning Editor, Alex Moody
Executive producers: Andy Brereton, Tom Davis and James De Frond
Director: James De Frond
Series producer: Rupert Majendie

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Published: 13 Jun 2019

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