Some BBC exec far cleverer than those folks on W1A has decided to green light a second series of the comedy set inside the glass-pannelled walls of New Broadcasting House.
But following a first series which gave us salary scandals and Britain’s Tastiest Village, what could possibly be in store for Ian Fletcher and his PR guru (ahem) Siobhan Sharpe?
RadioTimes.com found creator John Morton in the throes of writing the new episodes. Here are the details we squeezed out of him…
Series two will be longer than series one. Well, marginally. “There were going to be five half hour episodes and they’ve asked for the first episode to be an hour long, which means there will be three further half hours. I’m nearly two fifths of the way through – I’m at the end of the big first episode.”
Don’t expect to see any major new faces. “I did think about, for a second series, bringing in new characters but then I looked at it and we actually have 12 or more regular characters, not all main characters, that’s quite a big ensemble already. I felt if there was another big character I brought in, it might make it too crowded. At the moment there are people who come in episode to episode as guest players but the regular characters are the same as the first series.”
Wimbledon hangs in the balance. “There are rumours that Sky are bidding for Wimbledon 2017, so Perfect Curve and Siobhan Sharpe take on the task of basically rebranding or improving the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon. One issue – which is a real issue for all broadcasters – again made up, there have been suggestions in some quarters that the BBC’s coverage is too white. It’s something which is in the ether at the moment in lots of ways. It’s at one remove from real events but it’s informed by real events.”
There’s a new job at the top. There’s the creation of a new job – a big new job – and it’s how people at the top of an organisation react when a big, new top job gets advertised.” Although, if you thought this was inspired by the appointment of new chairwoman Rona Fairhead, you’d be wrong. “This job is slightly below that layer but in any organisation when something at the top is changing – how people navigate around that – everything slightly changes. You find people are taking steps forward suddenly or not and that’s something I hope people will recognise in organisations where power is being shifted slightly.”
Prince Charles will pay the BBC a visit. “It’s a thing that cannot possibly and must not go wrong, particularly because the charter that goes up for renewal in 2016 is a royal charter. It’s one of those things that absolutely cannot go wrong and therefore does.” Although, don’t expect to see HRH in person. He may have appeared on Countryfile last year, but Morton holds out no hopes of an appearance from the heir to the throne. “That may be aiming slightly too high. I mean, obviously the way around that is the comedy is to do with the just before he arrives so we can get away without having to see him.”
Speaking of that royal charter, it could inform a third series… “If the second series doesn’t go straight down the tube, 2016 will be big with the charter renewal and license fee renegotiations which also happens around that time. It’ll be a big, big moment for the BBC and there will be a lot of talk and discussion about what the BBC is for and whether live TV is going to survive. It feels to me like, if we’re allowed and anyone’s interested in it, it would be nice in 2016 to be part of that conversation.”
Shooting begins in January. We. Can’t. Wait.
John Morton and actors Sarah Parish and Hugh Skinner are appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this Sunday 4 October for a special Radio Times event. Get your tickets here.