Forget the annual Christmas Day BBC 1 vs. ITV 1 battle royal. 2012 brings an even bigger main event to the forefront with challenger, Sky 1 declaring they are poised to be the ‘home of original British comedy’ and taking on the perennial powerhouse, the BBC, on their home turf – comedy and light entertainment.
As the BBC seemed to be somewhat in the midst of a fairly sizable cutback in comedy and light entertainment output, the last half of 2011 saw Sky 1 really back up their verbal commitment to original comedy in the Fall by bringing UK viewers the likes of Trollied (Jane Horrocks, Mark Addy), Mount Pleasant (Daniel Ryan, Sally Lindsay), Spy (Darren Boyd, Robert Lindsay) and, most recently, The Cafe, directed by Craig Cash (The Royle Family). Now, from Ruth Jones, co-writer and co-star of Gavin and Stacey, comes Stella. in what promises to be a warm, funny series and an authentic slice of the working-class Welsh Valleys.
Upcoming projects include Gates, starring Sue Johnston (Royle Family), Tom Ellis (Miranda) and Joanna Page (Gavin and Stacey). Sky 1 will also be tapping the brilliance of Baby Cow Productions for a new comedy called Starlings. While Sky 1 seems to be grabbing some well-established and well-known talent traditionally associated with the BBC, you can bet the Beeb won’t take this surge by Sky 1 lying down so it will be interesting to see what they have in store for 2012.
A personal side note….
Spy, which stars the great Robert Lindsay (My Family) and Darren Boyd (Green Wing, Whites) is a personal favorite from both a storyline and cast. The series just finished transmission of the first season with no word as of yet as to whether or not there will be a second series. Let’s hope if fares better than Boyd’s earlier BBC comedy series, Whites, which starred Alan Davies and was, surprisingly, cut down in its prime and not commissioned for a second season. Oh, well. Just add Whites to the long, long list of shows that were ‘critically acclaimed’ but cancelled that I love. Two immediate examples come to mind in Arrested Development and Sports Night.