With so much attention being paid to recent drama greatness such as the Sunday night return of Vera and last nights premiere of Prey starring John Simm, we have been neglecting the strong comedy offerings that are on the horizon starting tonight on BBC One.
Comedy Playhouse, the comedy incubator series that launched the likes of Steptoe and Son, Till Death Do Us Part, Are You Being Served and Last of the Summer Wine, returns tonight with Over to Bill, a pilot project from Red Dwarf co-creator, Doug Naylor, starring Hugh Dennis as a weatherman who gets fired and then finds getting back on TV is much harder than he expected. From Baby Cow and Three Feet Productions, Over to Bill also stars Neil Morrissey (Me and Mrs. Jones, Line of Duty, Men Behaving Badly) as BFF, Jez.
Darren Boyd (Whites, Dirk Gently, Spy, The Guilty) is trading in his MI5 badge and gun to become a midwife in Delivery Man. Produced by Moniker Pictures of Green Wing fame, Delivery Man also stars Fay Ripley (Reggie Perrin), Alex Macqueen (The Thick Of It), Dominic Coleman (Trollied), Aisling Bea (Dead Boss) and Holli Dempsey (Derek). The pilot episode has already been filmed, but no transmission date set as of yet on ITV1. If commissioned for a full season, most likely the pilot will become the first episode of the series.
Another upcoming ITV comedy pilot features Katherine Parkinson (IT Crowd, Old Guys, Doc Martin, Sherlock) in Semi Detached and will follow a group of mature adult housemates who were hoping to have achieved more in life at their age. The group are either single, divorced or separated, and are forced to live in a half-way house together, despite not sharing anything in common. Semi-Detched will also star Ralf Little (The Royle Family) and Stephen Tompkinson (Ballykissangel, DCI Banks) as Parkinson’s half-way house flat mates. Filming will get underway in May with no transmission date set.
The huge ‘duh factor’ in all of this drama/comedy war between ITV and the BBC is that viewers on both sides of the Atlantic are the beneficiary to receive good telly. Stay tuned.