Ben Miller to play abandoned husband in new BBC comedy I Want My Wife Back

BBC1 series sees the Death in Paradise star plays nice guy Murray whose wife has walked out on him

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Former Death in Paradise star Ben Miller is to star as a jilted husband in a new BBC1 comedy called I Want My Wife Back.

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Miller, whose Death in Paradise character Richard Poole was killed off with an ice pick to the heart, will star as Murray – a likeable man who is suddenly abandoned by his spouse, Bex.

The BBC said of his new character: “He is good to his friends, kind to his colleagues, treats his staff well. He’s a top bloke. So no one is more surprised than Murray when his wife Bex walks out on their marriage. On her 40th birthday, at her surprise party. Murray is confused. What’s he done wrong? Where’s she gone? Is she coming back?”

The bulk of the comedy focuses on Murray’s attempts to get his life back on track “though it’s less a journey than a floundering stumble in the dark towards the prize of returning his life to something approaching normality,” according to the Corporation.

Written by Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni (The Worst Week of My Life), the six-part comedy is expected to air next year. The rest of the cast details will be announced in the coming weeks.

BBC controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen said of the new series: “We’re so lucky to see this winning writing and performing combo reunited on BBC1. Mark and Justin are masters of the comic scenario and Ben Miller is never anything short of hilarious.”

The commission was announced by Allen and director-general Tony Hall at an event on Wednesday night celebrating BBC comedy.

Other commissions include the announcement of the return of Tracey Ullman to the BBC and an annual Ronnie Barker Comedy Lecture in honour of the late comedy legend. This will be given by a key comedy figure to share his or her experiences and to help inspire others.

Impressionist Rory Bremner returns to BBC2 in Rory Bremner’s Election Report and the BBC has also commissioned actress and writer Morgana Robinson to make a sketch show pilot called Morgana & Friends.

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BBC3, the channel which the BBC wants to move online, was also in on the act. It unveiled a new the sitcom called Witless starring Him & Her’s Kerry Howard as a character whose life is turned upside down when she witnesses a gangland shooting.