In the sixties and seventies Comedy Playhouse provided the outlet for some of the beeb’s best loved sitcoms to be tried out as pilot episodes. Running from 1961 to 1975 the series was revived by BBC Comedy last year. For 2016 the strand will bring three specials to BBC One.
“The rich legacy of the Comedy Playhouse strand is indicative of the BBC’s commitment to back fresh and original ideas in a mainstream space. Ultimately, the audience decide on what they want to see more of, and these three very distinctive shows have great talents at the heart of them. Go easy, they’re like a new next door neighbour – you can learn to love them in time.” – Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning
The first special is Hospital People – a mockumentary set within the fictional Brimlington General Hospital. Comedian Tom Binns plays multiple characters, including deluded radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury, ambitious hospital manager Susan Mitchell, spiritualist porter Ian D Montfort, overenthusiastic priest Father Kenny and serial hypochondriac patient Terry Boyle.
Hospital People also stars Harki Bhambra, Liz Kingsman, Mandeep Dhillon, Aidey Pugh and Maggie McCarthy. It is co-written by Matt Morgan and Tom Binns.
While the funny, touching and twisted, Broken Biscuits follows five disparate groups of people, friends, partners and parents. There’s Milton and Pearl and Brenda and Roger, who take great pride in running their B&B, teenager Raz who dreams of independence from his mum, and her partner, ‘Sid the Suitcase’. Lastly, Martin who is looking for love while caring for his disabled brother Tom.
Broken Biscuits’ cast including Alun Armstrong, Alison Steadman, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole, Warren Brown and Gemma Whelan. It is co-written by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey.
And Stop/Start is a studio sitcom about three marriages in various states of disrepair, written by and starring Jack Docherty. When life gets tricky in these relationships, the characters are able to stop the action, explain themselves directly to the audience and start it all up again. Rob and Cathy have been married for ages and it shows. Evan and Fiona’s marriage is one big, noisy argument. David and Georgy have just moved in next door to Rob and Cathy, putting the cat amongst the pigeons. The cast includes Jack Docherty, Kerry Godliman, Nigel Havers, Laura Aikman, John Thomson and Sarah Hadland.
The original Comedy Playhouse Presents strand helped launch series such as Steptoe & Son, Are You Being Served? and Last Of The Summer Wine.