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Sky ups original British comedy offering with a host of new shows

Huge investment in original British comedy continues with an impressive array of new and returning shows coming to Sky One

The Sky original productions include new comedies Hitmen (working title), starring Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc and The Queen and I, starring David Walliams and Samantha Bond, plus second seasons of Idris Elba created In the Long Run and Romesh Ranganathan’s The Reluctant Landlord. A range of seven new comedy shorts will also join the line-up.

Head of Sky Comedy, Jon Mountague said: “It’s such a thrill to be able to bring our customers – who keep telling us they love comedy – such sparkling shows with world class talent. Over the last 18 months our comedies have won record ratings, a host of awards and the acclaim of customers and critics alike. We’ve set a high bar, and are extremely proud to be raising it with these new and returning shows.”

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc star in their first scripted comedy, Hitmen (working title)

Hitmen is a new six-part original comedy, produced by Tiger Aspect, about two best friends trying to make their way in the world with only each other to rely on. They also just happen to kill people for a living.

Having stumbled into a career in contract killing, misfits Fran and Jamie (Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc) are not your typical killers for hire. Working out of their scruffy van, each episode follows the hapless duo as they try to carry out their latest hit, inevitably derailed by incompetence, bickering, and inane antics. As each hit goes south, our (anti)heroes are thrown into one bizarre misadventure after another, each full of oddball characters and unexpected dilemmas.

Across the series, as the mishaps – and bodies – rack up, Fran and Jamie’s friendship is put through the wringer: while affable goof Jamie seems content to spend her days hanging out with her best mate, the more sensitive Fran starts to question whether it’s really the life she wants. Will their friendship survive their trials and tribulations? More to the point, as the jobs get increasingly dangerous, will they even survive?

Executive producer Myfanwy Moore said:  “We are so excited to be working with the truly fantastic female comedy partnership that is Mel and Sue, who can brandish bullets and banter brilliantly in equal measure.”

Sue said “I’m delighted to be part of this project, I can’t wait to sit for months on end in a hot van with my old, flatulent, double act partner.”

Mel added:  “It’s THIRTY YEARS AGO that I met Sue Perkins, and we had happy times together playing ridiculous characters, then spent hours in a fetid van in order to release them around the country. Essentially nothing has changed in the Mel/Sue collective. And that’s a great comfort.”

Produced by Tiger Aspect Productions, part of the Endemol Shine Group, Hitmen is written by Joe Parham and Joe Markham and will premiere on Sky One in 2019. The producer will be Arnold Widdowson and the executive producers will be Myfanwy Moore and Siobhan Bachman.

David Walliams, Samantha Bond and Johnny Vegas star in The Queen and I

This Christmas, the House of Windsor will be released from royal duty in The Queen and I, a new original comedy based on the novel by the late Sue Townsend and produced by King Bert Productions.

In the 90-minute special, the People’s Republican Party is elected to power and the monarchy is dismantled by the unfathomably popular Prime Minister Jack Barker, played by David Walliams. The show follows our beloved Royal Family, with Samantha Bond playing the dethroned Queen, as they are evicted from Buckingham Palace and forced to lead normal lives as citizens of a republic. The Queen and I began filming last week, with Walliams and Bond being joined by a star cast including Amanda Abbington, Francis Barber and Johnny Vegas.

Jo Sargent, Head of King Bert Productions, said: “The Queen and I is a truly unique, feature-length adaptation of the late Sue Townsend’s original novel and we at King Bert are so proud to be bringing her incredible work to the screen. Our wonderful cast, led by Samantha Bond and our very own David Walliams bring the storyline to life in the way that only they can. We’re delighted to be working with Sky One, which is such a natural home for comedy of the highest quality, and I can’t wait for viewers to see the show when it airs later this year/next year.”

The Queen and I is written by Stephen Russell, directed by Dan Zeff and produced by Margot Gavan Duffy. Executive producers are Jo Sargent and David Walliams for King Bert Productions.

Idris Elba set to return in In The Long Run

Idris Elba and Bill Bailey are set to return to our screens as Sky One greenlight a second series of their award-winning, top-rated comedy In The Long Run. Filming for the second series is scheduled for 2019, and will continue to follow the adventures of Walter, Agnes, Valentine and their neighbours Bagpipes and Kirsty. The series, created and produced by Idris Elba of Green Door Pictures and produced with Gina Carter of Sprout Pictures, is loosely based on Elba’s own childhood and explores life growing up on an estate in 1980s London. With a warm roster of returning actors on hand including Madeline Appiah, Jimmy Akingbola and Kellie Shirley, the second series promises to inject a dose of 80s nostalgia as audiences settle in for next year’s autumn line-up.

The Reluctant Landlord gets a second series

A second series of Romesh Ranganathan’s semi-autobiographical The Reluctant Landlord will join the line-up of Sky original comedies next year. The second instalment picks up from series one with the same mischievous and edgy tone and will follow Romesh as he continues to navigate life as a pub owner with more reluctance than ever before. The show will be produced by CPL Productions in association with What Larks! and Rangabee Productions, and will begin filming early 2019. Series one will premiere on Tuesday 30<sup “=”” style=”box-sizing: inherit; font-size: 13.5px; line-height: 0; position: relative; vertical-align: baseline; top: -0.5em;”>th October at 10pm on Sky One and streaming service NOW TV.

Seven new comedy shorts to premiere

The laughs don’t stop there. Sky will also release a range of seven comedy shorts this month, with a cast of one-of-a-kind talent including Alex Brooker, Lee Ridley (aka Lost Voice Guy), Jonny Pelham, Kris Marshall, Samson Kayo, Susan Wokoma, and Sindhu Vee. This list of established and emerging comedy performers will be given the opportunity to show comedy fans around the country something fresh and different – from a train passenger dealing with an overzealous guard to one man facing a life changing operation – and so much more. All seven shorts will be available on demand on Sky from 25 September, followed by a linear TX on Sky Arts beginning 10 October.

The above commissions follow on from a number of original comedy productions that Sky has announced this year, as part of a renewed focus on comedy as a genre, including Brassic with Joe Gilgun, Sally4Ever with Julia Davies and Karl Pilkington’s Sick of It.

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