You heard it here first...

BBC Radio searches for next TV hits

The BBC is to launch a series of Radio 4 comedy shows with an eye to developing them for TV.

Many hit comedies – including The League Of Gentlemen, Alan Partridge and Dead Ringers – started on radio, and the new Happy Mondays strand is designed to find the next generation of shows to make that leap.

For 13 weeks, Radio 4 will be giving over its 11pm Monday-night slot to a mix of one-off pilots and short series, the best of which will be developed for both radio and television.

Comics involved include Jon Culshaw, Stephen K Amos, Mark Watson and Katherine Parkinson.

Paul Schlesinger, the BBC’s head of radio entertainment says: “The joy of radio is its potential to develop and broadcast ideas in a very short time frame.

‘This I hope sends out a very positive message to talent and listeners alike. Both established, as well as relatively new comedy writers and performers, have an incentive to try out new formats in this strand and listeners can genuinely say they heard it here first.’

The run kicks off on April 14 with an hour long special called Happy Mondays: The Big Night In… a showcase of stand-up, sketches, games and live music recorded in front of an audience.

Other shows in the season are:

April 21: The Don’t Watch With Mother Sketchbook. The best moments from a fictional 30-year-old sketch troupe, featuring Rhys Thomas, Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way.

April 28: The Secret World. A new impressionist show from Dead Ringers creator Bill Dare and star Jon Culshaw, featuring celebrities and politicians as if caught unawares on microphone.

May 5: John Finnemore, Apparently. The first sketch show from a writer who has worked for Armstrong and Miller, Dead Ringers and Mitchell and Webb.

May 12: Pappy’s Fun Club. A ‘gang show’ with the if.comedy-nominated and Chortle award-winning sketch group.

May 19 to June 9: The Odd Half Hour. Another gang show, featuring stand ups Stephen K. Amos and Jason Byrne and comic actors Katherine Parkinson and Justin Edwards.

June 16 to July 7: Spike’s Lookalikes. A sitcom set in the world of look-alikes, written by stand-up Mark Watson.

Published: 27 Mar 2008

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