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Phoenix Nights star in new sitcom

Phoenix Nights star Neil Fitzmaurice is to star in a new police comedy for BBC3.

The actor, who played Ray Von in Peter Kay’s sitcom, appears opposite former Coronation Street star Chris Bisson in 10:96.

A pilot episode of the show is now being filmed by the BBC’s Manchester Comedy Unit.

The script, written by stand-up Tony Burgess, follows two police officers patrolling Manchester's fictional Langthorpe Estate, the run-down area where they both grew up.

Fitzmaurice, pictured, plays acting Sergeant Gary Barnes, who is overly-sensitive about being politically-correct and often winds up saying the wrong thing to his Asian partner, rookie PC David Sands, as played by Bisson

BBC comedy editor Kenton Allen, who is executive producer of the new show, said: "It's been an incredible first year for The Comedy Unit and 10:96 highlights everything that we set out to achieve.

"Tony Burgess' fantastic script shines a light on the contemporary police force in a very funny and very provocative fashion.

"It will certainly change your view of the modern policeman's daily grind. Dixon of Dock Green it ain't!"

The pilot edition will be screened on BBC3 sometime next year.

Since it launched in October 2003, the Comedy Unit has been working with comedians and writers from the North of England to find the next generation of comedy talent.

Burgess was the first writer to receive the unit's £6,000 bursary to develop scripts earlier this year.

Other projects being developed by the unit include Ideal, which stars Johnny Vegas as a drug dealer and is due to be screened early next year, and the sprawling Blackpool-based comic thriller Funland, co-written by The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson.

Published: 29 Oct 2004

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