The Future of TV Comedy – Sky1

We conclude this brief peek at comedies on their way to UK television with Sky1, a channel not known for its original comedy. Sky1 has made a name for itself by importing the best US TV and making the odd mini-series or TV movie. Not long ago Sky pledged to invest 50% more in making original programming and this includes a lot of new comedies, none of them starring Will Mellor who until recently was in three BBC comedies simultaneously. A sign of how stagnant the Beeb’s comedy output has become.

Jane Horrocks leads this new comedy set in a fictional supermarket Valco. With a genuinely funny trailer and a cast from Absolutely Fabulous, Being Human and Early Doors. This looks like the kind of working class comedy the BBC are supposed to be working on. It starts tonight at 9pm and we’ll certainly be taking a look. EDIT: We looked, it wasn’t very good.

The Café
Craig Cash, writer of The Royal Family and my favourite comedy to mention Early Doors, returns with a comedy written by and starring Ralf Little and Michelle Terry as Cash takes on directing duties. The show is set around a café (shocking) in Weston-Super-Mare and considering the creative talent involved will find humour in the everyday rather than broad slapstick comedy. Very excited about this one.

A high concept comedy, Spy follows a new recruit for MI5, Darren Boyd, as he is trained up by “The Examiner” played by Robert Lindsay. Could this just be a TV version of Johnny English, or is it something more? Does it need to be anything more? Darren Boyd is a reliable comedy performer and Lindsay should be fresh from his release from My Family hell. Hesitant intrigue with this one.

Mount Pleasant
Sally Lindsay of Corrie fame plays a thirty-something Mancunian whose life is presumably filled with humorous and relatable incidents. With Liza Tarbuck and Daniel Ryan amongst the ensemble cast my mind is drawn towards the hit-and-miss Linda Green. I like Lindsay so will at least give this show a chance, though it seems a little uninspired on the surface.

Coming from Baby Cow Productions, Starling is certainly amongst some of the best comedy in recent years, and I don’t mean Early Doors. With a fairly ordinary premise of a family adjusting to living with their Granddad, along with various wacky relations and ex-boyfriends thrown into the mix, Starlings must have something special yet to be revealed for Baby Cow to be involved. They did make The Parole Officer though…

With a script edited by living legend, Jennifer Saunders, and starring Sue Johnston, from superb Jam & Jerusalem, Tom Ellis, from underrated Miranda and Joanna Page of Gavin & Stacey and Superdrug ads, Gates already has me hooked. Set at the school gates during the dropping off and picking up of their children, this is set to be a character comedy exploring what happens when your children choose your friends.

Speaking of Gavin & Stacey, co-writer Ruth Jones writes and stars in Stella as… Stella, a mother in her forties living in the Welsh valleys. Ruth Jones in a Wales-based comedy? Yes please. Anyone worried that it was James Cordon doing all the work in Gavin & Stacey… well, you’re probably wrong.

This is Jinsy
Technically this is a Sky Atlantic show but we’re on a roll here. With cameos from Harry Hill, David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Simon Callow this quirky character based sketch show set in the fictional town of Jinsy will be hard to avoid when it comes to air. A pilot commissioned by the BBC but ultimately rejected, this show has been described as a “less malevolent League of Gentlemen“. Not for everyone then.

I swear we haven’t been paid by Sky1, it’s just that such a large roster of new shows from true British comedy pedigree is hard to come by on terrestrial TV. It’s been a good while since we had the joy, and sorrow, of Roger and Val Have Just Got In. Come on BBC, pull your fingers out as Sky1 is bringing their ‘A’ game.