BBC tests out six new sitcoms

...including one from Mark Watson

The BBC is to pilot six new sitcoms – including a show written by stand-up Mark Watson.

Each will be presented to a live audience at the Salford Sitcom Showcase next month in a bid to find the next sitcom hits. Last year’s showcase spawned Citizen Khan for BBC One and Hebburn for BBC Two.

Watson’s show, 1987, is set in a South Wales suburb,w here the Jones family are bracing themselves for the arrival of the English in the neighbourhood. The show is being developed by Hartswood Films for a possible BBC One slot.

Also being pilot for the channel is a British version of the American sitcom It Takes A Village, about a teenage maths prodigy being brought up by his gay dad and his new boyfriend.

The idea was piloted for ABC in 2010 but was not picked up for a series. Nevertheless, Richard Hurst, who contributed material to Miranda Hart’s sitcom, is adapting it for the UK – in a rare example of a comedy idea travelling east across the Atlantic.

Two further shows are being developed for BBC Two.

The first is Just Us, a family comedy starring Peter Davison, Samantha Bond and Tessa Peake-Jones. Davidson and Bond play a couple who have moved out of London to a quiet suburb of Brighton. The pair previously played a married couple in the 2005 ITV comedy-drama Distant Shores.

The second is called The Gatekeeper and stars Adrian Scarborough, best known for playing Julia Davis’s husband in Gavin & Stacey.

Here he plays a man in his forties, divorced and living with his tuba-playing, interfering dad, but employed in his perfect job - working as a security guard in an anonymous office block where there is no crime

BBC Three is looking at the final two pilots. Chain Gang is based in a Bristol coffee shop run by three ‘lackadaisical lackeys’ and created by Hyperdrive and Gnomeo & Juliet writers Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil. And Homeboys, about two twentysomething brothers still living with their parents.

BBC North director Peter Salmon, said: ‘The first Salford Sitcom Showcase was so successful, we couldn't resist another one.

‘This place is teeming with naturally funny performers, writers and entertainers so this event is one of the highlights this autumn and hopefully will result in some new commissions.’

Published: 31 Oct 2012

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