Six for One

BBC orders half a dozen comedy pilots

BBC One has ordered six comedy pilots from the likes of Jennifer Saunders, Ronni Ancona and Omid Djalili.

They are:

  • The Vivienne Vyle Show, about the host of a Trisha-style ‘live therapy show’, which Saunders co-wrote with Dr Tanya Bryon, the child psychologist who presents BBC Three’s Little Angels.
  • The Omid Djalili Sketch Show, which promises ‘an adult look at contemporary issues, ranging from identity, multiculturalism, terrorism and therapy to death, sex and religion’.
  • A new sitcom from My Family creator Fred Barron's, tentatively titled After You've Gone about divorced father Jimmy Venible,  left to bring up his two children with help from his mother in law.
  • Ronni Ancona. A sketch show featuring the Big Impression star
  • Fire Station, from Men Behaving Badly creator Simon Nye, about a group of small-town fire fighters hamstrung by oppressive health and safety regulations.
  • My Generation, also from Nye, about the lives of five geriatrics who are ‘less about Horlicks and slippers than self-medication and exploiting the system’.

The commissions come after BBC One vowed to invest in more comedy, after struggling to find mainstream heats.

Channel controller Peter Fincham has a track record in comedy, having produced such hits as Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Patridge, Brass Eye, Smack The Pony and Green Wing.

In his first speech after taking the BBC One job he promised to pilot more shows, rather than rely on script read-throughs.

Fincham said: ‘Piloting these shows is a great way for BBC One – and comedy talent – to try out new ideas. Some may work perfectly as one-offs, while others may sustain longer runs.

‘This is all about getting the best comedy for the BBC One audience.’

Four of the new shows are in-house BBC productions, while Fire Station is being made by independent companyTalkback Thames, and My Generation by Tiger Aspect and Caryn Mandabach..

Saunders is also writing another BBC One series,  Jam and Jerusalem, about a West Country Women's Institute, scheduled for broadcast later this year.

Ando other comedies already confirmed for the channel include Home Again, about a young couple who return to live with parents, and Lee Mack's sitcom Not Going Out:

Published: 28 Mar 2006

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