Comedy fans are in for a treat this spring with four new shows coming to BBC4 including a six-part Mackenzie Crook sitcom in which he plays a wannabee archaeologist.
Detectorists will see Crook draw on his own experiences as a metal detector enthusiast and “taps into the world of the male hobby which is very funny and touching,” according to BBC controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen.
Crook’s main co-star has not been formally cast, though the BBC is hoping to announce a “big name” signing soon, according to sources.
The pair “embark on a journey of greed, betrayal, rejection and redemption as they hurtle towards Danbury Metal Detecting Club’s greatest ever find,” according to the BBC.
BBC4 has also commissioned In and Out of the Kitchen, a three-part programme based on the Radio 4 comedy created, written by and starring Miles Jupp, about cookery writer Damien Trench, which is due to air in the spring.
Each episode follows a few days in the life of Damien and his partner Anthony (Justin Edwards), their seemingly ubiquitous builders Mr Mullaney and Steven, and Damien’s “terrifying” agent Ian.
Next month, BBC4 will show The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, which is being touted as a modern day This is Spinal Tap, and comes from Emmy award-winning documentary-maker Rhys Thomas and fellow Fast Show comic Simon Day.
Poking fun at BBC4’s own rock documentaries, the show sees Day’s Pern – an ageing rock star and former front man of ground-breaking progressive rock group, Thotch – fronting a spoof documentary called The Life of Rock: From Prehistoric Man to the Present Day.
Other band members and former Stowe classmates include guitarist Pat Quid, played by Paul Whitehouse, and keyboard player Tony Pebble – pronounced Pebblé – played by Nigel Havers.
Allen said the comedy is aided by some “brilliant cameos”. Among the real life rock and music greats appearing, Peter Gabriel will make an appearance in the show, which airs next month, as will Jools Holland, Rick Wakeman, David Arnold and Roger Taylor.
Matt Lucas and Michael Kitchen also star – as Brian’s legendary producer Ray Thomas, and his infamous manager John Farrow, respectively. Other cameos come from Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer (as their characters, the folk legends Mulligan and O’Hare), and David Baddiel, all of whom appear to give talking heads.
BBC4 will also air a three-part series called The Walshes, co-written by Father Ted creator Graham Linehan and the five-strong Irish comedy troupe Diet of Worms, which is being made by Linehan’s production company Delightful Industries.
Due to air in March, the comedy follows the tight knit family from the West Dublin suburb of Strollinstown. Tony (Niall Gaffney) and Carmel (Philippa Dunne) are parents to Ciara (Amy Stephenson) and Rory (Rory Connolly), who have been forced home because of the state of the Irish economy.
“This is a more domestic set up for Graham and is in some ways more traditional but it is very funny,” said Allen.
Allen said of all four commissions: “This quartet of comedy treats is testament to BBC4’s unique legacy in bringing the audience big name comedy talents in surprising and inventive shows that follow in the footsteps of award-winning predecessors like Getting On, The Thick Of It, Twenty Twelve and Screenwipe.”
Cassian Harrison, BBC4 channel executive, added: “It’s terrific to have such a strong roster of new comedy for BBC4 From Brian Pern to The Walshes, we’re home to a fantastic spread of innovation and some of the finest talent working in comedy today – exactly what comedy on BBC4 is all about.”
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.