Sky is increasing their spend on original comedy. The satcaster’s flagship channel Sky One has given the green-light to comedy series Hitmen and one-off The Queen & I, and renewed the Idris Elba created In The Long Run for a second season.
“It’s such a thrill to be able to bring our customers – who keep telling us they love comedy – such sparkling shows with world class talent”, said Jon Mountague, Sky’s Head of Comedy. “Over the last 18 months our comedies have won record ratings, a host of awards and the acclaim of customers and critics alike. We’ve set a high bar, and are extremely proud to be raising it with these new and returning shows.”
Hitmen is a six episode comedy series starring Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, about two best friends trying to make their way in the world with only each other to rely on. They also just happen to kill people for a living. Having stumbled into a career in contract killing, misfits Fran (Perkins) and Jamie (Giedroyc) are not your typical killers for hire. Working out of their scruffy van, each episode follows the hapless duo as they try to carry out their latest hit, inevitably derailed by incompetence, bickering, and inane antics. As each hit goes south, our (anti)heroes are thrown into one bizarre misadventure after another, each full of oddball characters and unexpected dilemmas.
Across the series, as the mishaps – and bodies – rack up, Fran and Jamie’s friendship is put through the wringer: while affable goof Jamie seems content to spend her days hanging out with her best mate, the more sensitive Fran starts to question whether it’s really the life she wants. Will their friendship survive their trials and tribulations? More to the point, as the jobs get increasingly dangerous, will they even survive? The comedy series is being produced by Tiger Aspect Productions and hails from writers Joe Parham and Joe Markham. Arnold Widdowson is the series producer. The executive producers are Myfanwy Moore and Siobhan Bachman.
The Queen & I tells the story of the downfall of the monarchy. The People’s Republican Party is elected to power and the monarchy is dismantled by the unfathomably popular Prime Minister Jack Barker. It follows the Royal Family as they are evicted from Buckingham Palace and forced to lead normal lives as citizens of a republic. David Walliams stars as the Prime Minister, while Samantha Bond plays the queen. Amanda Abbington, Francis Barber and Johnny Vegas also star.
The one-off 90 minute comedy is based on the novel by the late Sue Townsend and is set up at David Walliams and Miranda Hart’s indie King Bert Productions. It was commissioned by Sky’s Head of Comedy Jon Mountague and Sky’s Commissioning Editor for Comedy Morwenna Gordon. Production got underway last week and word is that it is being eyed for a key spot on Sky’s Christmas schedule. Dan Zeff is directing from a script by Stephen Russell. Margot Gavan Duffy is the series producer. The executive producers are Jo Sargent and David Walliams for King Bert Productions.
Loosely based on Idris Elba’s childhood, In The Long Run is set in 1985 and follows the Easmon family. Amid the tower blocks and shell suits, life for Walter and Agnes Easmon is all about quiet routine. They arrived from Sierra Leone 13 years ago and are happy earning enough to pay the bills with a bit left over to send back home. But when Walter’s brother Valentine arrives to the UK, his energy and lust for life changes everything. The comedy series is produced by Green Door and Sprout Pictures and stars Idris Elba, Bill Bailey, Madeline Appiah, Kellie Shirley, Sammy Kamara, Mattie Boys and Jimmy Akingbola. Production on season two is set to get underway next year. The show’s second season will continue to follow the adventures of Walter, Agnes, Valentine and their neighbours Bagpipes and Kirsty.
Finally, Sky has announced that a slew of comedy shorts with a cast of one-of-a-kind talent including Alex Brooker, Lee Ridley (aka Lost Voice Guy), Jonny Pelham, Kris Marshall, Samson Kayo, Susan Wokoma, and Sindhu Vee will be available on-demand from September 25th, before getting a linear broadcast on Sky Arts next month.