Tom Hardy and Kayvan Novak are leading the charge of big names appearing in BBC Three’s new batch of comedy pilots for 2017.
One of the best things about BBC Three has been its commitment to finding and nurturing new talent, with previous “Comedy Feeds” such as People Just Do Nothing becoming its flagship comedy programme, bagging several BAFTAs this year. A Brief History of Tim, meanwhile, is now in production, after its successful pilot last year. Now, BBC Three is changing things up, renaming its Comedy Feeds as “Comedy Slices”. The principle, though, is still the same – and the only thing more exciting than Hardy’s name appearing on the credits is the wave of unknown and up-and-coming names across all six pilots, from People Just Do Nothing’s Lily Brazier to #Hooddocumentary’s Kayode Ewumi.
The BBC Three pilots are part of a big push from BBC Comedy, with 12 brand new pilots announced today across BBC One’s Comedy Playhouse and BBC Two’s New on Two. The Comedy Playhouse strand ran on BBC One from 1961 to 1975 and spawned numerous, much-loved series including Are you Being Served?, Last of the Summer Wine and Steptoe and Son. In 2015, Shane Allen revived the Comedy Playhouse strand and has now ordered a further three pilots for BBC One, starring Tim Vine, Spencer Jones and Rob Beckett.
In 2016, BBC Two launched New on Two as part of the critically acclaimed Sitcom Season, resulting in full series commissions for Motherland and Johnny Vegas’s Home From Home; both series launch later this year.
Shane Allen says: “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. In these 12 shows there is such a breadth of tone and ideas, I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve got on offer.”
Here’s the full line-up:
There’s a common assumption about Chinese girls; Studious. Conservative. Polite. Well, think again! Chinese Burn 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.
This brand new BBC Three sitcom 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.
Chinese Burn is written by brand new writing talent, Yennis Cheung and Shin-Fei Chen. They lead the cast alongside Yuyu Rau and the show features a guest performance from Felicity Montagu (Alan Partridge).
Shin-Fei Chen & Yennnis Cheung say: “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. We are more than the stereotypes. We are varied. We are different. But our stories are universal, so Brits can relate… mate.”
A Roughcut production, Chinese Burn is produced by Alex Smith (Trollied, Adolf the Artist), exec produced by Ash Atalla (The Office, People Just Do Nothing) and directed by Chris Cottam (Carter’s Get Rich, Sunny D).
Enterprice is a new comedy written and created by Kayode Ewumi, co-creator of online smash #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).
Kayode Ewumi says: “The fact that I filmed this around my area – Elephant and Castle – made it even more of a beautiful experience for me. The cast and crew were amazing and I believe that Enterprice showcases growth in my writing. YAAAA BWOY!!!!”
A Fudge Park Production, the pilot is produced by Phil Gilbert, exec produced by Simon Wilson, and directed by Nida Manzoor.
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.
Wannabe stars Lily Brazier (People Just Do Nothing) as Maxine, alongside a cast including Nicholas Burns (Nathan Barley, Uncle), Jim Howick (Yonderland, Peep Show), 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.
Lily Brazier says: “Wannabe has given me the opportunity to finally live out my childhood girlband dreams despite my lack of dancing and singing ability. I’m really excited for everyone to see the little world that we’ve created with such an amazing cast.”
From part of the team behind the BAFTA winning BBC Three hit People Just Do Nothing, Wannabe is written by Lily Brazier and Ben Murray and directed by Ben Murray and Steve Stamp. Produced by Richard Webb (Porridge).
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.
Hailmakers follows Saz and Sol, the country’s lowest-rent entrepreneurs, as they find out that there’s nothing harder than easy money.
Hailmakers cast includes Akemnji Ndifornyen (The Javone Prince Show, Ackee and Saltfish) as Saz, Samson Kayo (Timewasters, Youngers) as Sol, and Jason Barnett (Porridge, PhoneShop) as Diggins.
Akemnji Ndifornyen says: “Hailmakers is the story of two best mates trying to make a pound note in 2017. It’s also the story of making a TV show while trying not to crease with laughter at the comedic genius that is Samson Kayo. Love this show and had a blast making it!”
Created and written by Jon Macqueen, Hailmakers is directed by Jim Owen and produced by Jon Macqueen and Inez Gordon.
BAFTA award-winning Kayvan Novak has adapted his critically acclaimed Radio 4 comedy, The Celebrity Voicemail Show, for BBC Three.
The Celebrity Voicemail Show 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’. This episode provides a hilarious and informative alternate viewpoint on an audacious project that flirted with complete disaster, yet managed to achieve success beyond its young director’s wildest dreams.
Kayvan Novak says: “Being able to take my radio show and turn it into television is what makes the BBC such a unique and special place in the world of comedy.”
The Celebrity Voicemail Show has been running for two seasons on BBC Radio 4 and was nominated for a Rose d’Or. The radio series featured such diverse and recognisable targets such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Barack Obama, Katie Hopkins and Sadiq Khan.
It is produced by Matt Stronge, exec produced by Ben Caudell, and directed by Kayvan Novak and Ed Tracy.
Animated sitcom Sticky follows four best friends, 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 to 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.
Sticky stars Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant), Javone Prince (Phoneshop, The Javone Prince Show), Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker, Four Lions), Charlotte Riley (Edge Of Tomorrow, Peaky Blinders), Tony Way (Drunk History, Game Of Thrones), Tom Davis (Murder In Successville, Very Important People), and Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow). Plus Putin and Trump make guest appearances.
The pilot is created, directed and produced by Ed Tracy (Fonejacker, Facejacker) and written by a team of writers led by Steve Burge.