The sketch show is not dead.
Comedy fans’ appetite for bite-sized chunks of hilarity has for many years thought to have been served by online clips which has edged out the traditional sketch show from British screens.
But Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams is hoping to revive the genre with a new BBC1 programme and he has enlisted the help of an array of new guest stars including Joanna Lumley.
The actress, best known for playing Absolutely Fabulous’ Patsy Stone, will be joined by other performers for a pilot of Walliams’ proposed new BBC1 show David Walliams and Friend which will be filmed next Saturday.
They include Morgana Robinson from the Vic and Bob series House of Fools and Mike Wozniak, best known for playing the neurotic friend Brian in Greg Davies’ Channel 4 comedy Man Down.
Walliams revealed in the summer that he was concentrating on the sketch show which he was writing with his Big School co-writers Steve and Andrew Dawson and Tim Inman.
The star who found fame with his sketch show Little Britain (below), which he made with Matt Lucas, claimed he was asked to produce a third series of Big School, but has instead decided to focus on David Walliams and Friend which will be made by his independent production company King Bert Productions.
According to BBC sources there is much excitement about the new show which it hopes will revive a genre on TV long thought to be too expensive to produce and which have now become edged out by viral videos since the glory days of programmes like Little Britain and The Fast Show.
For example, the Keith Lemon Sketch Show pulls in around one around million viewers on ITV2 – but a single sketch from that programme has been known to notch up 7 million Facebook views.
And Channel 4, which enjoyed success with popular series like Cardinal Burns, is no longer commissioning sketch shows because it believes the attention spans of younger viewers are too short.
A pilot of Walliams and Friend will be filmed at ITV’s London Studios next Saturday [19 September].
Those wishing to catch a glimpse of Walliams before then can see him in person at the RadioTimes Festival later this month.
The author, actor and comedian will embark on “an hour of hilarity, mischief and mayhem” on Sunday September 27 to celebrate his hugely popular children’s books.