Toby Jones – AKA the sardonic, University Challenge-loving Lance in Mackenzie Crook’s much-loved comedy Detectorists – is co-writing his first ever TV series.
Jones will also star, playing coach driver and single dad Peter Green in Don’t Forget the Driver which he has penned with his friend, the actor, writer and director Tim Crouch.
The dark BBC2 comedy drama is set in the seaside resort of Bognor Regis and finds Peter coping with his disaffected daughter Kayla and his mum Audrey, whose life is rapidly descending into confusion and fear. The discovery of a dead body on the shoreline and a meeting with a new arrival in town throws Peter’s life into chaos at the start of the six-part series.
“His is a life of ordinary routine; clip on ties, limp packed lunches, vehicle checks, roundtrip coach journeys ferrying church groups to Donkey Sanctuaries and Japanese tourists to Canterbury Cathedral,” said the BBC.
“Don’t Forget The Driver follows a group of people struggling with their place in the world, their own sense of identity, and reveals how, in one single moment, even in the most ordinary of lives, an accidental encounter can change the course of everything.”
Toby Jones said: “We hope that Don’t Forget the Driver will be an unusually funny drama about small town Britain and the joys of coach travel.”
Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, added: “This irresistible piece explores big rich themes about identity – both personal and national. It feels very timely in this climate of introspection and transition. Shot through with heart and humour it will continue to cement BBC Two’s reputation as the place to deliver poignant, mature and highly resonant comedy drama starring the cream of British comedy writing and acting talent.”
The commission was announced by BBC2 controller Patrick Holland at an event on Monday night launching the channel’s upcoming programming.
The comedy line-up also includes Defending the Guilty, in which Will Sharpe, the writer of Channel 4 comedy Flowers, plays Will Packham – an idealistic pupil barrister being shown the ropes by his cynical, worldly-wise boss Caroline, played by Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans).
The series has been written by Kieron Quirke (Cuckoo), and is based on the book Defending the Guilty: Truth and Lies in the Criminal Courtroom by Alex McBride.
BBC2 will also air the fifth and final run of BBC3 hit People Just Do Nothing, Holland announced.
Centred on fictional pirate radio station Kurupt FM, the series is created and performed by Allan Mustafa, Steve Stamp, Asim Chaudhry and Hugo Chegwin, and will enjoy a fitting “swansong” according to Shane Allen.
“The love for this show is immense and we want to see them off in style but aren’t expecting Kurupt FM to be any more respectable on BBC2,” he said.