The BBC has ordered two new sitcoms, Smoggie Queens from Hat Trick Productions and Funboys from Mayhay Studios.

The commissions were announced at the BBC Comedy Festival in Glasgow.

BBC Comedy and BBC Northern Ireland have co-commissioned the 4 x 30” Funboys following its launch as a comedy short film in 2023.

Made by Mayhay Studios, Funboys is a comedy series about “three emotionally-unassembled young men in small-town Northern Ireland.”

Funboys sees friends Callum (Ryan Dylan), Jordan (Rian Lennon) and Lorcan (Lee Dobbin) as they attempt to navigate through the hardships of life. Life is never easy for this trio of sad worms: from first girlfriends to dead pet pigs, the lads are put through the psychological ringer. But will their shared love of innocent fun and wholesome mucking about land them in hot water?

Funboys, filmed and set in Northern Ireland, with support from Northern Ireland Screen “takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, prioritising authentic, naturalistic comedy whilst exploring modern themes of male vulnerability, religious dogma and handjobs.”

Writers and stars of the series, Rian Lennon (also directs) and Ryan Dylan say: “We are so happy to be making a series about the important things in our lives: innocent wholesome fun, growing up, dying, screaming mental health issues, videogames and the ultimate power of friendship.”

Executive producer and story writer, Simon Mayhew-Archer of Mayhay Studios says: “I have high hopes that this show will be really good. There’s a decent amount of live pig action if you like that sort of thing (we do).”

Jon Petrie, BBC Director of Comedy Commissioning says: “It’s heartening to see one of our debut BBC Comedy Short Films make the step up to series. We’re excited to dive back into the chaotic world of Funboys with the team at Mayhay Studios. It promises to be weird, wonderful, charming, and always funny.”

Eddie Doyle, Head of Commissiong for BBC Northern Ireland, says: “It’s been fantastic to see this project develop from a BBC iPlayer short we co-commissioned with BBC Comedy, into a four part network series. Rian, Ryan and Lee are uniquely brilliant in their comedy and Funboys is quite unlike anything else out there. It’s great to see Northern Ireland comedy talent being given such a great platform that will be enjoyed by audiences across the UK.”

Funboys (4 x 30’) is a Mayhay Studios production for BBC Three, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC iPlayer. Written by Rian Lennon and Ryan Dylan. The story writer and executive producer is Simon Mayhew-Archer, the director is Rian Lennon and the producer is Leah Draws. The series was ordered by Jon Petrie, Director of Comedy and Eddie Doyle BBC Northern Ireland’s Head of Content Commissioning and the commissioners for the BBC are Navi Lamba and Seb Barwell. Mary McKeagney is Commissioning Executive for BBC Northern Ireland.

Smoggie Queens is billed as “an out and out comedy” centered around a gang of friends who are fiercely proud of their North Eastern town of Middlesbrough and their small pocket of the LGBTQ+ community.

Written by Middlesbrough native, Phil Dunning, Smoggie Queens tells the story of volatile Dickie (Dunning) along with drag queen Mam (Mark Benton), self-styled hun Lucinda (Alexandra Mardell), awkward Sal (Patsy Lowe) and newcomer Stewart (Elijah Young) “as they navigate love, life and their pride for a town that feels neglected in its own little corner of the UK. It’s an underdog story on two fronts, so expect a few passionate scraps that may send your wig flying!” 

Phil Dunning, writer and cast says: “I’m absolutely buzzing that the BBC are taking Smoggie Queens to series and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to write such stupid and weird characters. It’s been a beautiful dream working with Hat Trick, and the incredible cast already feel like my new chosen family. I can’t wait to introduce the sights, sounds and smells of Middlesbrough to the world.”

Chris Jones, Producer at Hat Trick Productions says: “Phil has a brilliantly funny, energetic and well-observed style to his writing. It’s been extremely special to develop this fiercely proud chosen family sitcom with him along with exceptional support from BBC Comedy. We’re so excited to bring these characters to life through our very talented cast and crew.”

Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy says: “Smoggie Queens is a show bursting with jokes and heart. Phil Dunning has concocted a brilliant ensemble piece that we know will refuse to go unnoticed!.”

Jimmy Mulville, Managing Director of Hat Trick Productions, says: “Smoggie Queens is a joy. Phil has created and stars in a show which is introducing us to our new best friends. They‘re the kind of people who look adversity in the eye and laugh!  It’s just the tonic we need right now.”

Smoggie Queens (6 x 30) is a Hat Trick production (Derry Girls, Outnumbered, Have I Got News For You and Episodes) for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer, and funding support by North East Screen Industries Partnership delivered by North East Screen with worldwide distribution by Hat Trick International. The series was commissioned by Jon Petrie, Director of BBC Comedy. The producer is Chris Jones (Kate & Koji, Whistle Through The Shamrocks) and the director is Andrew Chaplin (Alma’s Not Normal, The Full Monty). The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Gregor Sharp.

Jon Creamer

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