Mark Heap, Hugh Dennis and Neil Morrissey are to star in a new run of one-off BBC comedies commissioned as part of a revived Comedy Playhouse strand.
Running between 1961 and 1975, Comedy Playhouse was the BBC’s testing ground for new comedies and gave birth to some of its most successful shows including Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine.
Three new comedy pilots have been ordered by Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy Commissioning, and will air on BBC One.
Written by Red Dwarf creator Doug Naylor, Over To Bill stars Hugh Dennis as a BBC weatherman who is fired after cracking an innocuous gag about the south of England being better than the north.
The sacking kicks off a “blackly farcical train of events” which ends in his humiliation in front of a prospective employer from another network.
At his side throughout this sorry affair is generally supportive wife Faith (Tracy-Ann Oberman) and best friend Jez (Neil Morrissey) whose frosty partner Selina (Helen George) is something of a nemesis for Bill.
Donald McLeary’s Miller’s Mountain is described as “a hugely energetic studio sitcom set around the antics of Jimmy and his ragtag family of Mountain Rescue volunteers” and stars Jimmy Chisholm, Sharon Rooney, Kevin Guthrie, David Ireland, Kath Howden, Jonathan Watson and Sheila Reid.
James Fleet and Mark Heap head the cast of the final pilot, Monks in which stand-up and comedian Seann Walsh plays a 20-something who has never done a single useful thing in his life.
After years of dubious benefit claiming he finds himself finally threatened with prosecution.
Faced with the real prospect of prison, he decides to do what anyone would… run away and hide in his local monastery. Turns out escaping being banged up by becoming a monk wasn’t the easy option…
Announcing the three pilots, Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning, said: “BBC One delivers enormous audiences for comedy and this season revival reflects our commitment in mainstream to do new and daring projects. We want BBC One to fly the flag of popular British comedy and want this dedicated space to promote tomorrow’s classic comedy today.”