Pin the pointy stick on Hugh Dennis

After a couple of weeks of increasingly oblique teasers, we now have some solid details about Doug’s new sitcom. Firstly, confirmation that the project in question is indeed Over To Bill, a project that Doug has had in development for a number of years, and of which a pilot was shown a couple of Dimension Jumps back. It’s being produced as part of a revival of the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse strand, previous graduates of which include Steptoe and Son, Last of the Summer Wine, Till Death Us Do Part and Are You Being Served?. So no pressure, then.

This Chortle report has all the relevant details:

In Over To Bill, [Hugh] Dennis plays Bill Onion, a meteorologist fired after cracking an innocuous gag about the south of England being better than the north. This sets in motion a blackly farcical train of events begins which ends in his humiliation in front of a prospective employer from another network.

Co-starring Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey as Onion’s best friend Jez, Tracy-Ann Oberman as his wife and Helen George as Jez’s frosty partner and Bill’s nemesis, Over To Bill was written and directed by Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor and produced by his son Richard. The pilot is a co-production between their recently formed production company Three Feet Productions and Baby Cow.

A previous version of the pilot, which was finally shot in Surrey this weekend, has been with the BBC since 2010.

Naylor said: ‘Richard and I are absolutely thrilled to be working with such a wonderful cast with all the great support we’re getting from Baby Cow. We think the show is going to be something really special but then again we both thought Man Utd were going to win the league this year.’

It is indeed a very decent cast. From the various Twitter accounts, the shoot seemed to go very well and surprisingly quickly – it seems the Naylor production curse only extends to Red Dwarf. Hopefully the use of the Comedy Playhouse brand is a genuine commitment from the BBC to invest more time and money into original comedy, rather than just a nostalgia-based PR move, but either way, I’m very much looking forward to see what Doug can do with a whole new bunch of actors and characters.

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12 Responses to Pin the pointy stick on Hugh Dennis

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  1. Chortle originally reported it as being written by Rob Grant. The gestalt entity as it were.

    Comedy Playhouse is definitely something the BBC should a) bring back, b) respect and c) use effectively.

  2. With a cast like Hugh Dennis, Neil Morrissey and Tracy-Ann Oberman, I am genuinely looking more forward to this (if this casting news is true). I was already a little bit interested because of Doug and Richard, but I’ve never really seen any of Doug’s non-Dwarf stuff. I would really like to see ‘The 10%ers ‘. I thought that one little clip shown in the VII DVD documentary was very funny.

  3. > This sets in motion a blackly farcical train of events begins which ends in his humiliation in front of a prospective employer from another network.

    Presumably, this will be funnier than it sounds…:D

  4. > This sets in motion a blackly farcical train of events begins which ends in his humiliation in front of a prospective employer from another network.

    Presumably, this will be funnier than it sounds…:D

    To be fair, how funny does “An overambitious blowhard with no talent for the military makes a mistake resulting in the death of 11,000 people – including his own – and is resurrected with only his nemesis and a senile OS for company” sound?

  5. To be fair, how funny does “An overambitious blowhard with no talent for the military makes a mistake resulting in the death of 11,000 people – including his own – and is resurrected with only his nemesis and a senile OS for company” sound?

    Ah yes, Keeping Up Appearances. Classic.

  6. > To be fair, how funny does “An overambitious blowhard with no talent for the military makes a mistake resulting in the death of 168 people – including his own – and is resurrected with only his nemesis and a senile OS for company” sound?

    >

    I can’t believe they killed all the crew for just one joke in the episode like that, including Yvonne mcgruder who was just a shallow character there only for rimmer to have a sex interest with and then not.

  7. So If the 2010 BBC had been the same as the 1986? BBC when red dwarf was first rejected, it’s likely they would have eventually commissioned it a few years later, wishing it to be a star vehicle for a few names from shows that had been hits in the past two decades. We’d have got Nicholas Lyndhurst as rimmer and Ronnie corbet as lister.

    Flippant shite talking aside does this playhouse Strand mean, This is just one episode not a series?

  8. Flippant shite talking aside does this playhouse Strand mean, This is just one episode not a series?

    Yep, another pilot initially. Although this one for broadcast. What were the opinions of those who saw the previous pilot at Dimension Jump? I think John Hoare said that he was not really impressed but I may be misremembering that.

    I think it`s a great idea to bring back the Comedy Playhouse strand and a shame that there are only 3 new pilots. A shame also perhaps that they are not focusing on new comedies as Monks has been knocking around since 2000 apparently and Over to Bill has not exactly had a fast period of development…

    The fact that Hugh Dennis and Baby Cow are involved though makes this very appealing.

  9. Broadcast: April 29th. 10.30pm

  10. That’s tonight then?

  11. G&T Admin

    I think John Hoare said that he was not really impressed

    What a surprise.

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