ITV's double deal

Gervais, Murray sign for prime-time

Ricky Gervais and Al Murray have signed deals for prime-time ITV comedies.

Gervais is to make a televised version of his Flanimals children’s books, while Al Murray will host a comedy chat show as well as two one-off specials.

The new deals are part of the network’s drive to forge a reputation for comedy, a genre where it has traditionally struggled.

Gervais will work with two animators from Wallace and Gromit’s Aardman studios to develop his six-episode Flanimals series, set to air on Sunday evenings.

However ITV comedy chief Paul Jackson insisted the programme – which Gervais is currently writing - wasn’t going to be solely aimed at children.

Speaking at the Broadcasting Press Guild lunch, he said : ‘It is something for all the family. Think of Walking with Dinosaurs and Ricky Gervais doing David Attenborough talking in hushed tones. He will do the narration and possibly some of the creatures.’

And asked whether the show might open the door for Gervais to produce future shows for the network, he admitted: 'I would be stupid if I didn't hope that.'

The third book in Gervais' series, Flanimals Of The Deep, is released on October 5. (Click here to pre-order)

Jackson also revealed that Al Murray would be working on a sketch show for ITV, featuring new characters beyond the Pub Landlord persona that made his name.

‘We are doing a one-off sketch show with him because he has other characters he wants to try out,’ he said. ‘He’s not just the Pub Landlord.’

And of the prime-time chat show, Jackson said: ‘He’s interviewing star guests but it is driven by him - a bit like Dame Edna Everage.’

The other Al Murray special will be another Audience With... show

Jackson added he was keen to try more half-hour comedy shows out in the ‘underperforming’ 10pm slot.


Published: 27 Jun 2006

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