BBC comedy boss Shane Allen has unveiled 12 new comedy pilots for BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three.
The commissions include programmes from established talent, including Kayvan Novak (Facejacker) and Tim Vine (Not Going Out), and a bumper crop of new faces.
BBC Three’s Comedy Slices (formerly known as Comedy Feeds) will return for a fifth year, and are designed to develop a new generation of comedy stars, both on and off screen. Many of the pilots from previous years have become hit series, including Josh and RTS award-winning People Just Do Nothing.
This year’s line up includes animated sitcom Sticky, starring Tom Hardy and Javone Prince, Wannabe, the story of a 90s popstar planning her big comeback, and Chinese Burn, a stereotype-smashing sitcom following the escapades of three Chinese girls in London.
Allen has commissioned three pilots for BBC Two as part of the New on Two series, including comedy drama The Pact, starring Sarah Solemani (Bridget Jones’ Baby) and Brett Goldstein (Derek).
Meanwhile, the legendary Comedy Playhouse will return to BBC One, with pilots starring Rob Beckett, Tim Vine and Spencer Jones. The original Comedy Playhouse strand ran from 1961 until 1975, and gave birth to British comedy classics including Steptoe and Son, Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine.
Speaking about the dozen new commissions, Allen said: “No broadcaster in the world is more committed to British comedy than the BBC with this extensive breadth of new shows to offer to audiences and amazing opportunities and initiatives for budding writers and performers like BBC Writersroom, the Salford Sitcom Showcase, the Felix Dexter Bursary, the Caroline Aherne Bursary for Funny Northern Women and the BBC New Comedy Award on Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra.”
He added: “In these twelve shows there is such a breadth of tone and ideas, I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve got on offer.”
Read more about the new commissions below.
Comedy Playhouse on BBC One
Rob Beckett stars in working-class family sitcom Static, which is all about twenty-something Rob, who quits his job in London to move back to his parents. The only flaw in his plan is that his parents have sold their house in southeast London and move to a static caravan in Kent.
While crashing on a sofabed in a caravan 80 miles from London initially seems like a disaster, Rob gets used to life in the holiday park and begins to enjoy the benefits of living like a retired person in your twenties.
Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey), Phil Davis (Poldark) and Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty) star in the sitcom written by Rob Beckett and Shaun Pye.
Tim Vine Travels Through Time
Tim Vine plays antique shop owner Tim, who’s on the hunt for a celebrity to open his new shop.
When Strictly Come Dancing star Ore Oduba walks into the shop and asks Tim for help mending his ancient golden arrow, he sees an opportunity to be pounced on.
Time travelling Tim climbs inside his special Grandfather clock and journeys back in time to Sherwood Forest where he greeted by none other than Robin Hood himself (who bears a striking resemblance to Oduba). As well as getting the golden arrow fixed, he must help Robin regain his archery prowess and the love of Maid Marion.
Spencer Jones (Upstart Crow) stars as Leslie Winner, an accident-prone bloke who often ends up in unusual and often dangerous situations.
Leslie is planning to propose to his girlfriend Jemma (Aimee-Ffion Edwards – Skins), who is already having second thoughts about their relationship.
In a bid to win her hand in marriage, Leslie plans to propose on a minibreak in London. After some questionable accommodation, an eventful open-top bus tour and a surprise trip to the aquarium, the couple end up on an impromptu swim in a shark tank.
New on Two on BBC Two
Teenaged friends Amy and Andy make a pact: if they’re both still single at 35, they’ll marry each other.
Fast forward twenty years and the pair have drifted apart. Andy (Brett Goldstein) is a divorced dad, in a new relationship with a woman called Kelly. Amy (Sarah Solemani) has managed to avoid growing up. She works in a bar, lives in a flat share and has one-night stands instead of boyfriends.
When Andy and Amy bump into each other, it’s life-changing for both of them and they are both forced to reconsider their futures. Should Andy give up on Kelly and pursue his teenage crush? Will Amy finally assume some responsibility? And will they both live happily ever after?
New sketch show Famalam will cover everything from alien encounters to the latest Nollywood blockbuster.
Starring Vine superstar Tom Moutchi, Vivienne Acheampong (The Aliens), Gbemisola Ikumelo (Sunny D), Roxanne Sternberg (Emerald City), Samson Kayo (Youngers) and John Macmillan (Chewing Gum), the show features a dazzling array of accents, cultural observations and colourful costumes.
The Other One
Sisters Catherine Walcott and Catherine Walcott have no idea the other existed until their father drops dead.
Cathy has her life in order, she’s engaged to be married and has a pension. Cat has a pay-as-you-go phone. The only things the pair have in common are their names (Mr Walcott’s clever idea when he had his secret daughter) and some DNA. Although both have always wanted a sister, this isn’t quite what they had in mind.
Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley) and Rebecca Front (The Thick of It) star in this narrative comedy written by RTS award nominee Holly Walsh.
Comedy Slices on BBC Three
Tom Hardy, Javone Prince, Kayvan Novak and Charlotte Riley star as best friends who attend college in London’s mythical borough of Shatford in this animated sitcom.
Life in Shatford revolves around Wi-Fi, so when the internet goes down, chaos ensues. How will the gang cope offline, and who is behind the disappearance of the net?
The four friends embark on a high-risk mission to infiltrate the headquarters of the perpetrators behind the crime.
New comedy Chinese Burn aims to smash any stereotypes people might have about Chinese girls.
The sitcom follows three ‘normal’ Chinese girls in London. Elizabeth is the failed Chinese daughter, Jackie is a struggling actress and Fufu is a crazy-rich princess who’s visiting London for the first time.
Talking about their new pilot, writers Shin-Fei Chen and Yennnis Cheung said: “Chinese people don't get much representation on British TV, and when they do it's usually illegal immigrants, Triads or takeaway staff. Chinese Burn aims to tackle these stereotypes and share real East Asian experiences of living in London. This show's stories are straight-from-the-dragon's-mouth, no-MSG, authentic. 6 billion Chinese can't all be Wongs. We are more than the stereotypes. We are varied. We are different. But our stories are universal, so Brits can relate... mate.”
The Celebrity Voicemail Show
Kayvan Novak’s Radio 4 series The Celebrity Voicemail Show moved to BBC Three, as Novak imagines what it might be like to listen to the voicemails left on celebrities’ phones.
George Lucas’ phone is at the centre of the show’s TV debut. Novak imagines the answerphone messages for Lucas as he films Star Wars in the Tunisian desert, from quibbles with Alec Guinness’ agent, to questions from technicians about what sort of sound is suitable for the ‘electric swords’ in Lucas’ off-the-wall production.
Maxine (Lily Brazier – People Just Do Nothing) was once part of fictional girl band Variety, who took the nineties pop world by storm. These days she’s a middle aged failing music manager.
When the only act she manages threatens to go elsewhere, Maxine devises a cunning plan. A come back. While the world is awash with singing, dancing teenagers, Maxine has spotted a gap in the market: Mum Pop.
Wannabe follows the story of one woman’s unfinished business and her struggle to let go of her lifelong dream.
Entrepreneurs Saz (Akemnji Ndifornyen - Ackee And Saltfish) and Sol (Samson Kayo –Timewasters) have one rule in business: they will only work for themselves.
The pair are eager to succeed, but when they lose their only office cleaning contract, they need to take a big gamble in order to keep a roof over their head. As the country’s lowest-rent entrepreneurs, they’ll discover there’s nothing harder than easy money.
Kazim and Jeremiah are entrepreneurs in the early stages of rolling out their home delivery service Speedi-Kazz.
Written by Kayode Ewumi, the co-creator of online hit #HoodDocumentary, the pilot sees the pair try to establish their business in London.
Confident Kazim is full of energy, while Jeremiah is the brains behind the operation, and occasionally these differences can leave the two at loggerheads.