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BBC Announces 12 New Comedy Pilots

Today the BBC have announced twelve brand new comedy pilots across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three.

The ‘Comedy Playhouse’ strand returns to BBC One with three pilots starring Tim Vine, Spencer Jones and Rob Beckett. ‘New on Two’ returns to BBC Two with three pilots starring Samson Kayo, Siobhan Finneran and Sarah Solemani.

Then BBC Three revamps its ‘Comedy Feeds’ strand which will now be known as ‘Comedy Slices’ and will deliver six pilots featuring a range of new talent as well as some established favourites like Javone Prince and Kayvan Novak.

Speaking about the new pilots, Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning said:

“At BBC Comedy our passion and drive is to spot, nurture and provide a platform for the UK’s world-class comedic talent; from those taking their first steps alongside supporting the brightest comedy stars to reach wide audiences.

Discovering new talent, whatever their background, is key to continuing the rich legacy of taking performers on those journeys and why we have such a range of well-loved shows on air now.

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 Radio 2 Comedy Awards.”

Here’s a rundown of the twelve pilots…


Mister Winner | BBC One

Mister Winner is a sitcom starring Spencer Jones (Upstart Crow) as Leslie Winner, a well-meaning but hapless chap who is prone to accidents, complications and landing himself in unusual and often somewhat dangerous situations.

Leslie plans to propose to his girlfriend, Jemma Smith (Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Skins), but unknown to him, she is having doubts about their relationship as he doesn’t take life seriously enough. Jemma is a young professional from Croydon, who loves Leslie, but doesn’t know if that’s enough as he doesn’t have a job, any money, or ever take her anywhere. But he makes her laugh more than anyone else ever has.

Jemma’s parents, Chris and Teresa, (Shaun Williamson, EastEnders, and Dorothy Atkinson, Call The Midwife) have stuck together through 30 years of marriage. Chris is managing stress with colouring books (although he didn’t realise there were ‘adult’ ones so is frequently seen colouring in pictures of elephants and children with balloons) and Teresa refuses to take life too seriously. Both are supportive of Leslie’s endeavours to win Jemma’s hand in marriage, even after Leslie has an accident with Chris’s prize possessions, his Koi Carp.

Leslie attempts a big proposal on a weekend break to London. After an eventful open-top bus tour, questionable accommodation and a surprise trip to the aquarium, this all results in an impromptu swim in a shark tank. Will Leslie win Jemma over?

Guest stars Romesh Ranganathan and was written by Matt Morgan (Hospital People).


Tim Vine Travels Through Time | BBC One

Tim Vine journeys back in time to the days of Robin Hood in a quest to mend a golden arrow and a broken heart.

He is in search of a celebrity for the grand opening of his antique shop and it just so happens that his very first customer is presenter and Strictly Come Dancing champion, Ore Oduba, who asks Tim if he can mend his ancient golden arrow.

Tim steps inside his very special Grandfather clock which travels him back in time to Sherwood Forest in the days of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. On arriving, Tim is greeted by Robin himself (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ore Oduba). Robin is suffering from a broken heart.

He has mysteriously lost his famous bullseye aim, and with it the love of Maid Marion. Tim must get to the bottom of the mystery but local tyrant and shouty killjoy, the Sheriff of Nottingham, is determined to drive him out of town.

Can Tim get to the bottom of this skullduggery and help Robin regain his archery prowess and win back the love of Maid Marion? Will he be able to repair the broken arrow and secure Ore Oduba to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Tim’s Antiques? Only time travel will tell…

Further cast includes Sally Phillips, Tim Key, Spencer Jones, Mandeep Dhillon, Kayode Ewumi, Marek Larwood, John Archer and Tony Green.

Written and created by Tim Vine and John Archer.


Static | BBC One

A sitcom all about twenty-something Rob (Rob Beckett) who jacks in a job in London to move back in with his parents in their southeast London family home, only to discover they’ve just sold the house and moved to a static caravan park in Margate.

Not only is Rob now jobless, but he’s now having to live on a sofabed in his parents’ caravan in a holiday park 80 miles from London whilst he figures out his next move.

It seems like a disaster to begin with, but his mum’s delighted to have someone to cook for, and his dad’s figured out how to get thousands of football channels on the telly. Before long Rob’s getting used to being with mum and dad again, and through them he’s quickly drawn into the world of the park, not to mention the extraordinary characters within it.

The question is – how quickly can Rob get back on his feet and back to London? And, as time goes on – how much does he really want to? Because despite the crippling FOMO Rob feels whenever he Facetimes his best mate back in the city, there’s definitely some benefits to living like a retired person when you’re in your twenties. Not least when there’s a smart and sassy girl working behind the clubhouse bar.

Static is at heart a family sitcom – warm, working-class, multi-generational and broad, with acutely and affectionately observed characters. And some cracking nicknames.

Written by Rob Beckett and Shaun Pye.


Famalam | BBC Two

A new comedy sketch show where no area of the universe is off-limits. Famalam shines a comedic light on everything from alien encounters in the outer reaches of the galaxy to what happens when a man is left on his own in a house for 10 minutes holding only a phone and a remote.

With a dazzling array of accents, cultural observations and colourful costumes, Famalam gives us a glimpse of the latest Nollywood blockbuster, reveals who might be responsible for internet spam and introduces us to the real rulers of the world – spoiler alert – it’s not the G20…

The show stars Vivienne Acheampong (The Aliens), Gbemisola Ikumelo (Sunny D), Roxanne Sternberg (Emerald City), Samson Kayo (Youngers), John Macmillan (Chewing Gum) and introduces former Vine superstar Tom Moutchi .


The Other One | BBC Two

A narrative comedy about a girl called Catherine Walcott. And another girl called Catherine Walcott. Sisters who had no idea the other existed until their father drops dead.

Cathy has a fiancé, a Duke of Edinburgh Award and a pension. Cat has a pay-as-you-go phone. The only things they have in common are their names (a smart move if you’ve got a secret daughter). Both of them have always wanted a sister – just maybe, not each other.

The 30-minute pilot stars Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley), Rebecca Front (The Thick of It), Ellie White (Inside No. 9), Lauren Socha (Misfits) and Amit Shah (Stag).

Written by Holly Walsh (Motherland).


The Pact | BBC Two

A comedy drama about two teenaged friends make a pact. If they’re both still single aged 35, they’ll marry each other. Amy doesn’t think it’ll ever happen. Andy, who’s secretly in love with Amy, desperately hopes that it will.

Twenty years later, Amy (Sarah Solemani, Him & Her) and Andy (Brett Goldstein, Derek) have drifted apart. Andy is divorced with a four year old son, but in a new relationship with a woman named Kelly. Amy, meanwhile, has managed to avoid growing up entirely. She lives in a flat-share, works behind a bar, and her relationships never seem to go beyond drunken one night stands.

When Andy and Amy bump into each other again, it’s life-changing for both of them. Face to face with their pasts, they’re forced to reconsider their futures. Is it time for Amy to take responsibility for her life? Should Andy throw caution to the wind and pursue his childhood crush? Whatever happens, they’re going to end up together, right?

Needless to say, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Written by James Britton and Rick Laxton.


Chinese Burn | BBC Three

There’s a common assumption about Chinese girls; Studious. Conservative. Polite. Well think again!

This new sitcom smashes all the stereotypes and with a round-house kick, busts opens the door to the messy, hilarious, unbridled reality putting an eastern twist on the western world.

It follows the escapades of three ‘normal’ Chinese girls –Elizabeth the failed Chinese daughter, Jackie the feisty struggling actress and Fufu the Buddhist princess, fresh off the plane – as they negotiate the trials of modern life in the capital. From sex to relationships, failing careers to just about paying rent, getting drunk to getting in fights – they’re visitors from a scary superpower and they’re taking over London.

The pilot sees Elizabeth’s crazy-rich childhood friend Fufu visiting London for the first time. It shouldn’t be a problem but Elizabeth has lied about her job to avoid shaming her parents. So she deals with the situation like she deals with any situation, by lying some more and getting drunk. Jackie has a big casting for the role of a lifetime, instead of the usual ‘Chinese prostitute, DVD seller or takeaway girl’ and this is the worst time to be babysitting a kooky new arrival. The Fufu problem isn’t going away.

Written by brand new writing talent, Yennis Cheung and Shin-Fei Chen who lead the cast alongside Yuyu Rau and the show features a guest performance from Felicity Montagu (Alan Partridge).


Hailmakers | BBC Three

Saz and Sol are eager for success. If there’s money in it, they’ll do it, but on one condition: they will only work for themselves. No jobs. No bosses. No problem. Except Saz and Sol have lost their only office cleaning contract, and with just £40 left in the coffers, they need to gamble big in order to keep a roof above their head.

It follows Saz and Sol, the country’s lowest-rent entrepreneurs, as they find out that there’s nothing harder than easy money. The cast includes Akemnji Ndifornyen (The Javone Prince Show) as Saz, Samson Kayo (Timewasters) as Sol, and Jason Barnett (PhoneShop) as Diggins.

Created and written by Jon Macqueen.


Sticky | BBC Three

This animated sitcom follows four best friends (Tom Hardy, Javone Prince, Kayvan Novak & Charlotte Riley) who attend a college located in London’s mythical borough of Shatford. This deceptively boring scenario serves as a launchpad for epic adventure, heart-rending friendship, and increasingly sticky situations.

All forms of life depend on having a Wi-Fi connection, so when the internet suddenly disappears the world is thrown into chaos.

Can the friends cope offline? Who would kidnap the web and why? How long do we really expect the planet survive without Internet Porn? Questions only the gang can solve as they embark on a thrilling rescue mission to infiltrate the headquarters of the mysterious perpetrators of this heinous web-based crime.

Although based in reality, the freedom that animation brings allows Sticky to present an unlimited range of diverse characters and epic locations. Be prepared for the weird to collide with the epic. Plus Putin and Trump make guest appearances.

Also starring are Tony Way, Tom Davis and Arthur Darvill.

Created, directed and produced by Ed Tracy (Fonejacker, Facejacker). Written by a team of writers lead by Steve Burge.


Celebrity Voicemail | BBC Three

Adapted from his critically acclaimed Radio 4 comedy, The Celebrity Voicemail Show, Kayvan Novak imagines what it would be like to listen to the voicemails left on a celebrity’s answerphone. Over the course of each episode the viewer sees a number of characters leaving messages for that episode’s celebrity and a narrative is constructed. Often what’s happening in the background is as important as the message itself.

In this episode Kayvan imagines the answerphone messages that might have been left for George Lucas midway through his hectic, and often shambolic, first phase of shooting on Star Wars in the Tunisian desert. From Alec Guinness’ agent quibbling over a percentage of the unfinished film’s gross profits, to an inept special effects technician struggling to find a sound suitable for ‘the electric swords’.


Wannabe | BBC Three

Back in the girl-power heyday of the 90s, a hit single would easily get you 15 minutes of fame. But 15 minutes just isn’t long enough for some people…

Maxine never made it to the big time as part of teenage girl group Variety and now, as a middle-aged failing music manager, she finds herself in crisis, when the one act she looks after threatens to drop her.

But Maxine has come up with a plan. A come back. This time bigger, bolder and, well… older. Who cares about a hip young girl group anyway?! What the world is really missing, is Mum Pop …

Wannabe is the story of unfinished business, one last shot at fame and struggling to let go of a lifelong dream and stars Lily Brazier (People Just Do Nothing) as Maxine, alongside a cast including Nicholas Burns (Uncle), Jim Howick (Yonderland), Ryan Molloy (Jersey Boys) and introducing Savannah Steyn, Karla Simone Spence and Imogen Gurney as Sweet Gyal.

Oh and there’s a cameo from Dane Bowers …

Written by Lily Brazier and Ben Murray.


Enterprice | BBC Three

A new comedy written and created by Kayode Ewumi (#HoodDocumentary).

Kazim and Jeremiah are two young entrepreneurs in the early stages of rolling out their home delivery service, Speedi-Kazz. Both are blessed with different skill-sets: Kazim has the energy and confidence, Jeremiah has the brains – but on occasion these differences can leave them at loggerheads. We follow their fledgling business, and this awkward bromance, as it makes its way into the homes of Kazim and Jeremiah’s fellow Londoners.

Cast confirmed so far include Kayode Ewumi, Daniel Ezra (Undercover), Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans) and Femi Elufowoju, Jr (Borgen).


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