Wow, when I signed on to do a write up about the slate of new British comedy programs coming out in 2013, I had no idea how many shows were in the works. I’m getting a bit of a rush just reading about the possibilities, like a kid “dizzy on lemonade.” (I knew that Noel Fielding reference would come in handy one of these days!) Since both time and space are limited, I’ve decided to choose a handful of potential gems to bring to your attention.
Many other shows will no doubt pop up on my radar in the months ahead and I’ll be sharing those with you as I unearth them or when you, My Dear Reader Chums, tell me about them first. (Miranda Hart reference, I’m just full of them today.)
Please note many of these series have no specific broadcast dates yet, nor even those lovely teaser trailers. They are just that shiny and new. Let’s get on with it then, shall we?
Blandings, beginning January 13th on BBC One
Starring Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders and Mark Williams, Blandings is a period comedy set in 1929, based on the writings of famous humorist P.G. Wodehouse. It tells the story of a dysfunctional aristocratic family with Spall as the beleaguered and befuddled master of the estate, Clarence Emsworth.
Alas the Earl craves only peace and the odd quiet moment with his pig, Empress. If you like the grandeur of Downton Abbey but have often thought it was missing a dash of farce, perhaps Blandings will be your cup of tea.
Inside No. 9 (or possibly Happy Endings), BBC Two, Autumn 2013
If you’ve seen The League of Gentlemen or Psychoville then you are familiar with the hilariously twisted minds of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. This fall the duo is bringing us yet another example of their unique hybrid of comedy horror. Described as intense, claustrophobic high comedy, each story in this six part anthology takes place in a different Number 9 – from a country house to a modest teacher’s flat.
A marvelous mix of guest stars have signed on including Tamsin Greig, Katherine Parkinson and Anna Chancellor, but you know the highlight will be the unbelievable and perhaps gruesome transformations of Shearsmith and Pemberton.
The Wrong Mans, BBC Two, date to be confirmed
When I saw James Corden was writing and starring in a new sitcom in 2013, I squealed with delight. Well, it was probably more of yip actually, but you get the idea. Anyhow, during a break on the set of Gavin and Stacey, James along with Mathew Baynton (Spy, Horrible Histories), devised this comedy thriller scenario: two office workers happen upon the scene of a horrendous car accident and consequently get swept up in a dangerous criminal conspiracy.
This tag line from the BBC sums it up pretty well. “They are in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong skills. They are The Wrong Mans.” Filming begins this month and is expected to air later in the year. More good news, Hulu is in on the production of this series, so we may see it here in the States a bit sooner than the traditional British import.
Heading Out, BBC Two, probably Spring 2013
I discovered Sue Perkins just a few months ago from her hilarious work on Supersizers Go… , a historical, comedic food show, for lack of a better explanation. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, Sue is a writer/comedian/presenter/amateur conductor… a Renaissance woman really. And now she will be showing of her sitcom chops as writer and star in Heading Out, the story of a 40-year-old veterinarian who is successful in every aspect of her life.
The only problem is she can’t bring herself to come out of the closet to her parents. Dawn French, Nicola Walker, Joanna Scanlan and Steve Pemberton also star in what I’m sure will be a very smart and funny series and, I hope, a wonderful vehicle to bring Sue Perkins to an even larger audience.
Family Tree, BBC Two and HBO, Spring 2013
Finally, I must include something from my favorite subgenre, a mockumentary comedy brought to you by pioneer, Christopher Guest. Family Tree stars Chris O’Dowd as Tom, a man down on his luck and in the midst of an identity crisis. Enter a mysterious inheritance, a box of personal effects belonging to an unknown great aunt.
The contents of this box lead Tom on a journey from his home in London to America and, along the way, towards a better sense of family and himself. I miss the IT Crowd so I’d watch this just for O’Dowd but I’m curious to see how he navigates the tricky waters of improvisation.
However you like your comedy, there’s bound to be something here for every sense of humor. And remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Rest assured I’ll be on the sofa for the duration just watching, laughing and writing. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it, eh?
Carmen is an American wife and mother of two college students who live away from home. With her yellow lab Malcolm by her side, she watches and writes about British television for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK I Learned from the BBC. Read more of Carmen’s posts here.