BBC Orders Slew Of Comedy – Return Of ‘Detectorists’, ‘Bad Education’, ‘The Cleaner’ & More!
The BBC has announced they will invest an extra £10 million in high-impact comedy programming over the next two years, and that will see the return of a number of favourites, alongside some interesting new shows.
“BBC Comedy is doing phenomenally well… Last year, iPlayer had 538 million requests for comedy shows… The BBC is by far the biggest fish in the pond when it comes to comedy… There is no other broadcaster that can provide as many services…” said Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy, during a speech at the BBC Comedy Festival. “The BBC remains the best place to develop and nurture new comic voices… We want to invest more in our development process… along with scripts, pilots for BBC Sounds and tasters, we’re going to double the number of half-hour pilots that we make… More than anything else we want shows that connect with our audience – whether they’re big and broad or weird and provocative. Worlds that the audience can see themselves in often connect in the deepest way… shows that feel uniquely British.”
Of those “uniquely British” shows, Petrie announced a number of returning comedy series, some with straight renewals, others returning after a longer break. Here are some of the things you can look forward to:
After a five year absence, triple BAFTA-winning comedy, ‘Detectorists‘, is to return later this year for a one-off 75-minute special. A warm, funny, honey dripped drama ‘Detectorists’ follows the travails of two metal detecting hobbyists, Lance and Andy (Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook), as they negotiate the beautiful gentle rhythms of the English countryside.‘Detectorists’ launched in October 2014 and there have been 19 half-hour episodes since, this long-form version of the show will bring viewers up to date with the lives of Andy, Lance, Becky and the Danebury Metal Detecting Club.
Bad Education (Special & Season 4)
Jack Whitehall’s ‘Bad Education‘ will return to BBC Three, not only for an extended 10-year anniversary special, but also a brand new six-episode season!
The special episode of Bad Education, will reunite useless teacher and big kid Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall) with his old students one last time as they return to Abbey Grove for a joyfully chaotic careers day. The special marks a fond farewell to Jack Whitehall’s character Alfie and will be written by co-executive producers Whitehall and Freddy Syborn.
Meanwhile, Bad Education the series welcomes a brand-new intake of unruly students to Abbey Grove as two former classmates, world-class diva Stephen (Layton Williams) and soon-to-be-family-man-with-responsibilities Mitchell (Charlie Wernham) find themselves at the other side of the desk as newly qualified – or not – teachers.
The Cleaner, Season 2
The UK’s favourite crime scene cleaner is back. Series 2 of ‘The Cleaner‘ sees Wicky (Greg Davies) encounter yet another variety of larger than life characters, all in the wrong place at the wrong time. And as his luck will have it, there’s also a pub in desperate need of mopping up.
“It was such a pleasure bringing Wicky and his gory career to life and I’m beyond thrilled we get to do it again,” said Davies. “So thrilled that I intend not to mention how sweaty that hazmat suit gets under lighting. Put it like this, we had to burn it. Anyway, I’m still excited, thanks BBC.”
Jerk, Season 3
Co-written by Renkow and Shaun Pye (There She Goes, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order), ‘Jerk’ is a black comedy that revolves around the character of Tim (Tim Renkow), a man who uses the fact that he has cerebral palsy to try and get away with anything. Tim makes people feel uncomfortable. He knows that because he does it on purpose. But that’s his problem, time spent taking aim at small targets means he constantly misses out on life’s bigger prizes.
Guilt, Season 3 (Final)
Award-winning drama ‘Guilt‘ will return for a third and final series. Writer and Executive Producer Neil Forsyth will bring brothers Max (Mark Bonnar) and Jake (Jamie Sives) together again for one final adventure full of the trademark twists and turns that the series has become famed for.
Juice, Season 1
‘Juice’ (BBC Three) follows Jamma (Mawaan Rizwan) who desperately wants to be the centre of attention, but his family are constantly stealing his thunder. Mum, Farida (Shahnaz Rizwan), always makes everything about her, Dad, Saif (Jeff Mirza), ignores him and brother, Isaac (Nabhaan Rizwan), steals the limelight at work – the one place Jamma feels like he’s doing well. And when he finally does get the validation from boyfriend Guy (Russell Tovey), he can’t handle it. Jamma’s hyperactive imagination goes into overdrive and the world transforms around him in this surreal comedy, written and created by Mawaan Rizwan.
Mobility, Season 1
‘Mobility’ is a comedy short for BBC Three, that follows three Huddersfield teenagers with nothing in common except that they all have to catch the mobility bus to school. It’s the first day of 6th Form, and Mike (Jack Carroll) is looking forward to a bit of social mobility. He’s way better than the group of loser friends he’s somehow accrued, and aspires to higher things.
But for now, Mike is stuck with Sunny, an upbeat and unapologetic geek, and Dan, a lad so acerbic he only communicates in put-downs. Mike thinks he can do better, but he’s going to find it hard to shake them off: Mike, Sunny and Dan all use the mobility bus. Mike has cerebral palsy, Sunny uses a wheelchair, and Dan Syndrome has Down’s Syndrome. So Mike, Sunny and Dan are trapped together, at least for the ride to school.
In addition to those new and returning shows, Jon Petrie also announced BBC Comedy has consolidated their existing published short-form strands (Laugh Lessons, Threesomes, Quickies etc) to create one streamlined and targeted approach to the development of our short-form comedy content. Short Films are designed to give writers, producers, and directors an opportunity to bring their comedy ideas to life and be showcased on BBC platforms.
If audio is more your thing, BBC Comedy and BBC Sounds commissioning teams are going to be working together to co-commission up to four audio comedy pilots. The aim is to work with new and emerging performers on crafting comedy characters or personas that have the potential to be developed further for BBC Comedy and/or BBC Sounds. There is a well-established journey for talent from audio comedy to TV (The Boosh, Goodness Gracious Me, People Like Us). And characters that begin life in an ensemble show can grow into sitcom stalwarts, like Alan Partridge who first featured in Radio 4’s ‘On The Hour’. If you want to give it a go, submissions open from the 8th of June 2022.
They will also be reopening submissions for the existing Writing Bursaries plus launching brand new Producer and Director Bursaries all under a BBC Comedy Bursary Collective later this year.