BBC Two Orders ‘Bottom’ Spin-Off, ‘Count Arthur Strong’, ‘Wolf Hall’ Adaptation & More

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At the Edinburgh International TV Festival, BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow today announced a raft of new commissions for the channel. Amongst the new commissions is a spin-off of comedy series Bottom, a new drama based on Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies and a new comedy series written by and starring Sue Perkins.

“BBC Two has had a really successful year with stand-out dramas from The Best Of Men to Line of Duty, the channel’s best performing drama series since 2002; fantastic comedy including Twenty Twelve and The Sarah Millican Show; ground-breaking documentaries and current affairs films from The Men Who Made Us Fat to Britain In A Day; and our contribution to the Cultural Olympiad from the acclaimed The Hollow Crown adaptations of Shakespeare’s history plays to a major exploration of the life and work of Lucian Freud”, said BBC Two Controller Janice Hadlow. “Looking ahead, I want to ensure that the channel’s sense of confidence and scale continues, and I believe that these commissions, from a major year-long celebration of British inventiveness and ingenuity to new dramas and comedies from some of our brightest and best talent demonstrate the range and ambition we have for BBC Two.”

Here is BBC Two’s full line up of new commissions:

Wolf Hall – A six part adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, Wolf Hall is set in England in the 1520’s, which is a heartbeat from disaster. If Henry VIII dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war.  Into the impasse steps Thomas Cromwell; son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a bully and a charmer, Cromwell has broken all the rules of a rigid society in his rise to power, and is prepared to break some more.  Pitting himself against parliament, the political establishment and the papacy, he is prepared to reshape England to his own and Henry VIII’s desires. Company Pictures in producing with Poly Hill serving as executive producer for the BBC.

The Honourable Woman – From writer Hugo Blick (The Shadow Line), The Honourable Woman follows the daughter of a UK Zionist gun-runner who inherits her murdered father’s company and, by dramatically inverting its purpose from supplying tanks to tractors, starts a deadly political war. The 6×60 series is being produced by Eight Rooks with Poly Hill serving as executive producer for the BBC.

Our Men – Written by James Wood and Rupert Walters, this new dramedy series stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb and follows follows the lives and loves of the British Embassy team in Tazbekistan, one of the ex-Soviet ‘Stans’. David Mitchell plays Keith Davis, the newly appointed British Ambassador of Tazbekistan – ambitious, he intends to make his mark in this posting. Standing beside him is Neil Tilly, Deputy Head of Mission (Robert Webb). While Davis is out representing Britain, Neil is in the Embassy pulling the levers and managing the staff. It’s a tough posting where they are far more likely to be drinking lethal vodka in the President’s hunting yurt than having G&Ts on the lawn. Big Talk Productions is producing with Kenton Allen, Luke Alkin and Chris Sussman serving as executive producers.

Heading Out – Sue Perkins returns in this new comedy series which she created and will star in. Heading Out follows Sara (Perkins), a veterinarian so skilled, she can spay a tortoise one-handed. She’s successful, she’s popular, there’s just one chink in her armour: she’s too scared to tell her parents she’s gay. On the evening of her 40th birthday, Sara’s friends give her an ultimatum: either she tells her parents when they come to visit in six weeks’ time, or they will. To help Sara achieve this goal, they’ve saved up to buy a series of sessions with Toria, the eccentric and mildly-qualified lifestyle coach/ therapist, and so the countdown begins. The comedy series is a co-production between Red Production Company and Square Peg TV, with Nicola Shindler, Debi Allen and Kristian Smith serving as executive producers.

Hooligan’s Island – A spin-off of comedy series Bottom, which finished its run on BBC Two in 1995. Hooligan’s Island follows Richie Rich and Eddie Hitler who are now abandoned, lost, shipwrecked on the tropical hell hole that is Hooligans Island and they are still hitting each other over the head with large metal objects, still chasing women, even though there are none on the island, and still waiting for that job seekers allowance cheque as they distil something quite like alcohol, only worse. BBC Two has ordered six episodes for the show’s first season, which is set to air in 2013.

Count Arthur Strong – Written by Graham Linehan & Steve Delaney, this new comedy series is poised to take radio character Count Arthur Strong on the full journey from Edinburgh cult hit to his television debut. Count Arthur Strong is an elderly pompous show-business legend… though really just an out-of-work deluded thespian originally from Doncaster, in the north of England. Delaney’s geriatric creation is a mixture of physical and mental clumsiness, mirthful malapropisms and Tourettic tics, whose pride forbids him from ever conceding fallibility, even as his world crashes around him. BBC Two has ordered six thirty-minute episodes which will be produced by Retort and Komedia Entertainment.