Jessica Hynes is to write and star in Up the Women, a three-part period comedy for BBC4 about the suffragette movement. The two other lead roles will be played by Rebecca Front (The Thick of It) and Vicki Pepperdine (Getting On).
Set in Banbury in Oxfordshire in 1910, Up the Women centres on three members of a craft circle who, upon hearing of the growing campaign or women to be allowed to vote, set up their own "hilariously ineffectual" local protest.
Margaret (Hynes), having visited London and experienced the Women's Suffrage movement, decides the Banbury Intricate Craft Circle, based in the church hall, should be renamed "The Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Request Women’s Suffrage”. Gwen (Pepperdine) is determined to concentrate on crafting, while Helen (Front) thinks women’s rights are unnecessary: "What on earth do women need a vote for? My husband votes for who I tell him to vote for. What could be a better system than that?"
Up the Women co-stars Judy Parfitt (Girl With A Pearl Earring, Call the Midwife), Adrian Scarborough (Gavin & Stacey, Miranda) and News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig.
Episodes are to be filmed in front of a live audience at BBC Television Centre next month - the last audience sitcom to be filmed at TVC before its refurbishment - for broadcast later this year.
Directed by Christine Gernon (Gavin & Stacey, Hebburn), Up the Women will be BBC4's first studio sitcom.
Hynes rose to fame (under her maiden name Jessica Stevenson) as the co-writer/co-star of Spaced, for which she won two British Comedy Awards. She was more recently seen in Olympics satire Twenty Twelve.