Simon Amstell, Richard E Grant and PG Wodehouse in new season on BBC4

Arts channel also picks up highly acclaimed US comedy Parks and Recreation - plus Danny Baker's Golden Age of the Album


BBC4 has announced the commission of several new programmes across comedy, drama and documentaries.


The channel has purchased the UK rights to the Emmy-nominated, critically acclaimed US comedy Parks and Recreation. Set in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, the series features an ensemble cast led by Amy Poehler. It drew comparisons with the American version of The Office when it launched on NBC in 2009. Entertainment Weekly described it as “marvellously droll”.

More comedy comes from Grandma’s House star Simon Amstell, whose recent Numb tour will be presented as a special performance filmed at BBC Television Centre.

Bob Servant, Independent features Brian Cox – the actor, not the scientist – as a pompous Dundee businessman attempting to become an MP. The comedy series, centred on a character already familiar to Radio 4 listeners, co-stars Rufus Jones (Hunderby, Holy Flying Circus) and Greg McHugh (Fresh Meat).

Self-explanatory cult hit Old Jews Telling Jokes is reprised with the two-part More Jews Telling Jokes, starting on 28 November. It will be followed by people from various walks of British life offering their favourite gags in Some Vicars, Some Scousers And Some Boffins With Jokes.

The anatomy of humour is studied further in the documentary Michael Grade and The World’s Oldest Joke, in which the TV exec studies what amused everyone from the Sumerians to the Victorians, with help from Ken Dodd, Tim Vine and Barry Cryer. Meanwhile, BBC4’s documentary feature strand Storyville will include a biography of US stand-up comedian and film actor Richard Pryor.

In drama, Tim Pigott-Smith and Zoë Wanamaker lead the cast of An Innocent Abroad, the story of how humorist PG Wodehouse became exiled from Britain. Richard Harrington (Lark Rise To Candleford) plays DCI Tom Mathias in Hinterland, a new detective series set in Aberystwyth – and there’s more crime drama in the form of the 1990s-set Inspector Montalbano prequel, Young Montalbano.

New music programming includes The Golden Age of the Album, a three-part discussion programme presented by 5 Live and former BBC London DJ Danny Baker, with episodes focused on soul, pop and rock.

Factual programming features Treasures of the Louvre, a history of the French institution presented by Paris-based writer Andrew Hussey, and The Riviera: a History in Pictures, a two-parter on the artists who have been inspired by the Côte d’Azur, fronted by Richard E Grant.


Michael Mosley returns to BBC4 with Pain, Pus and Poison, a guide to the development of medicines and healing. Finally, there’s the latest attempt by the channel to turn dull-sounding subjects into involving TV: Carved with Love, a three-part series on the history of British woodworking.