BBC Comedy and BBC Three have commissioned a raft of new shows featuring upcoming writers and talent.
The new commissions include PRU (4 x 30), a comedy about a group of teens navigating the pitfalls of adolescence in a Pupil Referral Unit, a school for excluded kids. Featuring a cast of many new faces that were cast via social media and an inclusive crew behind the scenes, it has been picked up for series on the strength of the pilot which will be available on BBC iPlayer as part of the Festival of Funny on Tuesday 2nd March.
Zen School of Motoring (6 x 15) is a timely, meditative take on the world from the mysterious Ogmios, a strong new comic voice with affectionate humour and unique worldview. Contemporary and contemplative, the series journeys with Ogmios as he travels in his car across the streets of London. We meet his community whilst he philosophises and shows off his rap battle abilities against the backdrop of an ASMR-infused, atmospheric, dream-like soundscape.
Laugh Lessons is a collaboration with the BBC Comedy Association which offered production companies based across the country the opportunity to pitch original three-five minute short sketch ideas for BBC Three. Following a selection process, the four successful companies chosen to produce their laugh lessons are Channel X North, Little Wander, North East Comedy Hot House and Peggy Pictures.
Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy, says: “This eclectic mix of box fresh talents signal BBC Three’s preeminent place in supporting and championing new wave British comedy talent. PRU’s colourful world of characters brings heart and humour to marginalised lives, ZEN SCHOOL OF MOTORING oozes with originality in form and voice and the plethora of talent behind the LAUGH LESSONS is delivering contemporary comedy talent from across the UK.”
Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three, says: “BBC Three is a rich breeding ground for new comedy talent with a hugely successful track record. We are really thankful for our close relationship with BBC Comedy and their unparalleled ability to spot new talent and we’re really looking forward to these commissions that promise to bring unique, new voices and perspectives to the channel.”
PRU features Halil, Hanna, Jaden and Belle are four very different 15 year-olds, with one thing in common. They’ve all been perm’d. Now, teetering on the edge of the education system, they’re negotiating Year 10 together at their local PRU.
PRU’s writers and directors have experience of working closely with young people in PRUs across London, over a period of years. In addition, the BBC funded 17 off-screen trainee placements on the pilot and is committed to funding trainees on the series as well.
The cast features YouTuber Michael ‘MBbants’ Boahen (Jaeden), Pia Somersby (Belle), Jaye Ersavas (Halil), Kerry Godliman (Jean) Tom Moutchi (Anthony), Umit Ulgen (Berdan) and Kosar Ali (Hanna), who has just won the BIFA (British Independent Film Awards) Most Promising Newcomer and Best Supporting Actor awards.
Teddy Nygh, Director, says: “ We are incredibly proud of what we have created together with the writers, the young team at Fully Focused, our amazing cast and the whole process from Insta Live castings to our phenomenal crew, who worked so hard to create the show during the pandemic. To now get the series commissioned we are over the moon and can’t wait to raise the bar again whilst ensuring the authenticity and humanity of our leading characters shine through. All the while delivering the realness we always do, with bundles of laughter at the forefront !”
Nick Bedu, Executive Producer says: “All the team at Fully Focused are crazy excited to see PRU hit your screens in its very own series commission ! We’d like to send special thanks to Fiona Campbell at BBC Three and Shane Allen and Emily Allen at BBC Comedy for seeing the potential in what we have created. We’ve assembled an amazing cast of young, on-fire talent & established comedic brilliance, who have absolutely smashed it in bringing the idea to life. We want the characters to jump from the classrooms and into your hearts, bringing with them a belly full of laughs along the way!”
PRU is a 4 x 30 commission produced by Fully Focused. It was commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy and Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three. It is written by Alex Tenenbaum and Nathaniel Stevens, the Director is Teddy Nygh and the Executive Producers are Leah Henry, Nick Bedu and Teddy Nygh. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Emily Allen.
Zen School of Motoring
Each episode of Zen School of Motoring (6 x 15) follows Ogmios out on a mission in his loyal Fiat Panda. His journeys take him far and wide, physically and philosophically, but they start and end with his community – going through the same streets, seeing the same landmarks, and characters. The community fabric of his little pocket of North London informs Ogmios’ worldview and openness to people and ideas.
Against a dream-like, atmospheric, ASMR-infused soundscape, we learn that Ogmios was a rapper and his freestyle bars pepper the show as he philosophises and shows off his rap battle abilities. The series will reveal more and more about him as he offers glimpses into his life, his past, his hopes and why he became a Zen motorist.
Iain Wimbush, Executive Producer, says: “We’re so pleased to be entering Ogmios’ world – a happy place of meditation, ultra-considerate driving and fearless scooter boys . We hope it’s a soothing tonic for these times.”
Zen School of Motoring is a 6 x 15 commission featuring Ogmios aka Ivan Battaliero-Owen and produced by Rumpus Media. It was commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy and Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three. It is written and directed by Ogmios and James Cotter, the head of production is Lucy Rothery and the Executive Producers are Iain Wimbush and James Cotter. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Emily Allen
BBC Three has commissioned 20 Laugh Lessons from four production companies from across the UK as a result of the collaboration with the BBC Comedy Association.
Sarah Asante, Commissioning Editor, Comedy, said: “To kick off 2021, we asked Indies to help us to uncover new comedy voices from around the UK and they’ve introduced us to a crop of diverse young comedians that we’re excited to nurture and highlight. BBC Three has always supported and showcased the best of new British comedy talent, we believe that these fresh faces will keep that legacy going to great effect this year”.
The successful production companies are:
Channel X North, who have bases in the North and in Scotland with Hopscotch, are looking to deliver sketches from talent including Impaired: Jack Carroll/ Pete Selwood, Laura Marcus, Teej Works aka Tendayi Jembere and Northern Power Blouse: Cassie Atkinson, Kat Butterfield, Jack Robertson and Beth Rylance
Wales-based Indie Little Wander work with a roster of talent to deliver sketches from Shikira Porter, Alex Cubb and Remi Yenn, Sian Docksey, Jamie d’Souza and Hannah Platt.
North East Comedy Hot House work with emerging comedy talent from the North and their laugh lesson will include contributions from Raul Kohli, Amber Doig-Thorne, Joby Mageean, William Wyn Davis and Francesca Tomlinson.
London-based Peggy Pictures will be introducing a host of new sketch ideas from Fats Timbo, Akafi Ali, Ehiz, Manrika Khaira and Steph Mcateer.
Laugh Lessons were commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy and Fiona Campbell, Controller BBC Three. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Sarah Asante.
Picture credit: Domizia Salusest