In a different League

Ambitious project for Gentlemen stars

Comedian Mark Gatiss is to star in a Sopranos-style comedy drama co-written by his League of Gentleman colleague Jeremy Dyson.

Funland is to revolve around a fictional family with connections to the criminal underworld and involved in Blackpool's entertainment industry.

The show is being produced for BBC3 by the corporation’s new Manchester-based comedy unit.

Its editor, Kenton Allen, said it was "a brilliantly compelling set of characters and original stories which I think will fry the minds of the BBC3 audience".

He added: "If I had to describe it, I'd say Funland was the bastard son of The League of Gentleman and EastEnders after a really heavy night on the town with Twin Peaks. It's a big sprawling piece, not a sitcom with just four main characters.

"Funland will reinforce our commitment to home-grown talent and originality and demonstrate how the Manchester initiative goes from strength to strength."

Dyson and EastEnders writer Simon Ashdown have already penned the first hour-long episode, and BBC3 has commissioned ten more half-hour scripts.

Channel controller Stuart Murphy said: “We have very high hopes for Funland. It feels daring, smart and complex, as well as being very funny. It should add a more complex flavour to the BBC3 comedy repertoire.

"It's another example of how BBC3 aims to take established experienced people both in front of and behind the screen, and give them the space to incubate new ideas in a relatively protected digital environment.

Funland is due to go into production in March, for broadcast later next year.

Published: 10 Sep 2004

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