BBC One Orders David Walliams Comedy Series, ‘The Ark’, ‘Quirke’ Adaptation & More

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Following on from BBC Two’s announcement of new comissions yesterday, BBC One controller Danny Cohen today announced a number of new commission for BBC One at the Edinburgh International TV Festival. Highlights from the many new commissions include a brand new comedy series from David Walliams, a new drama series based on the Quirke novels by Irish writer Benjamin Black (pseudonym of award-winning Irish writer John Banville) and a new comedy series from veteran writer Ben Elton.

“It’s a huge privilege to run Britain’s most-watched channel, and I’m greatly enjoying my time at BBC One. There’s always plenty to do though and my focus in the coming months is on consolidating BBC One’s position as the home of the biggest and best programmes – whilst at the same time continuing to develop the channel as a place where we take experimental risks and develop new talent, said Danny Cohen, Controller of BBC One. “The new programme commissions I am announcing today across Comedy, Drama, Factual and Entertainment underline this creative strategy – with its aim to combine the biggest programmes with the kind of commitment to risk and new talent not normally associated with mainstream channels.”

Here is BBC One’s line up of new commissions:

Autumn Leaves – A new six episode comedy series created by David Walliams, Autumn Leaves is set in an urban secondary school and is a comedy about a dysfunctional staff room, unrequited love and interactive white boards. Walliams plays a chemistry teacher who’s hopelessly in love with the school’s new French teacher, who in turn is being chased by a lothario gym teacher. BBC In-House Comedy is producing with Mark Freeland serving as executive producer.

Quirke – A new three part drama series based on the series of novels by Irish writer Benjamin Black (pseudonym of award-winning Irish writer John Banville). Quirke follows the eponymous chief pathologist in the Dublin City Morgue (played by Gabriel Byrne) – a charismatic loner whose job takes him into unexpected places as he uncovers the secrets of sudden death in 1950s Dublin. It’s a rich and smouldering world along whose smoky streets and damp alleys Quirke goes from bars that glimmer with peat fires and whiskey to elegant Dublin houses brimming with sexual tension. It’s a time full of mystery, secrets and intrigue. The drama series is a co-production between BBC Drama Production, Element Pictures and Tyrone Productions; with Jessica Pope, Joan Egan and Ed Guiney serving as executive producers.

Slings And Arrows – A new six episode comedy series penned by Ben Elton, Slings and Arrows follows Council Officer Gerald B Meakin (David Haig), a man dedicated to the minimization of risk, even where no actual risk exists. If only Gerald were able to control his own life with the same benevolent despotism with which he regulates other peoples’. Sadly he can’t. A recent divorcee and new single Dad, Gerald B Meakin’s personal life is just one long struggle against the petty irritations and inconvenience which bedevil all our lives. Those 21st century slings and arrows of outrageous fortune against which Gerald’s lengthy rule book is no defence at all. Phil McIntyre Television is producing with Lucy Ansbro and Gregor Sharp serving as executive producers.

The Ark – A new six episode drama series set during World War I, The Ark was created by Sarah Phelps and follows the First World War’s frontline medics – their love affairs, professional triumphs, personal tragedies, fears and hopes as they fight for the future.  In a British base hospital near the front, a team of doctors, nurses and VADs are working together to heal the bodies and souls of the men in their care. This hospital on the coast of France is a frontier between two worlds: between the trenches and the home front, between the old rules, regulations, hierarchies, class distinctions and a new way of thinking.