‘Pensioner’ Comedy for BBC One

Russ Abbot in Last of the Summer WineLast of the Summer Wine meets Waiting for God in the BBC’s latest ‘golden oldies’ comedy Grey Mates.

The sitcom follows the ups and downs of three couples living in Thurnemouth, ‘Norfolk’s only West facing resort’. There’s Alan (Philip Jackson) and Joyce (Alison Steadman), who are coming at retirement from very different directions: Alan wants to slow down, Joyce wants to speed up. Alan tries to avoid as many of Joyce’s social commitments as possible, but downsizing to a bungalow has meant there are fewer places to hide.

This is a very modern, affectionate and brutally honest single camera take on a stage of life often stereotyped and outmoded in sitcomworld. Cast perfection on top of a script that glitters with comedy gems. – Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning

John (Russ Abbot) and Maureen (Stephanie Beacham), live in their gadget-filled dream house, adventurous in every aspect including the bedroom. For them 60 is the new 40. However, there’s a reminder of what’s around the corner with Maureen’s ever-present mum, Joan (June Whitfield – Last of the Summer Wine, Absolutely Fabulous, Terry And June).

And finally there’s Trevor (James Smith) and Carol (Paula Wilcox) who’ve got non-communication down to such a fine art that if Carol spent a weekend away, Trevor might not even notice. Thirty years of living in each other’s pockets have shown the benefits and drawbacks of staying friends over the decades…

As the series opens it’s Trevor and Carol’s anniversary and Joyce has invited the group to make it a celebration to remember. However, the perfect day is threatened by a series of unfortunate incidents. Not least the unexpected arrival of Maureen’s mum Joan who’s partial to a drink or two. Then Carol drops a bombshell. Maureen and Joyce have different views on how to put the party back on track, and the men try to deal with the inevitable fallout. The best laid plans, like Maureen’s mum, often go astray… Each couple takes a long, hard look at who they’ve ended up with; there’s so much more to achieve in their own lives – do they want to spend the rest of it with each other?

Grey Mates will go into production next spring to screen later in the year with six half-hour episodes.

Comedy has a unique ability to make the ordinary extraordinary and Grey Mates delivers that with a big hit of character. The series follows three newly retired couples who re-discover what it means to have time on their hands. Hilariously brought to life by a stellar cast whose relationships are tested in a multitude of ways. – BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore

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