UKTV GOLD to invest millions in new comedies
Comedy repeats channel GOLD is to produce a raft of its own original shows, it has been reported.
According to trade magazine Broadcast, the station - still best known by its original name, UK Gold - has secured a budget running into "double-digit millions" to create a raft of new comedy shows over the next two years. The channel is looking to develop a mix of panel shows, sketch shows, sitcoms and comedy dramas.
The move follows the notable successes of GOLD's sister station, Dave, and Sky1, the latter of which is now investing £600m a year in creating new British shows such as sitcom Spy, comedy drama Stella and panel show A League Of Their Own.
Dave, also owned by UKTV and originally known as UK Gold 2, has had success in resurrecting 1990s cult sitcom hit Red Dwarf, a new series of which has just been filmed. The channel also has hits in stand-up showcase series Dave's One Night Stand, which is also to return later this year, and panel show Argumental.
The first batch of new shows for GOLD are expected in the latter half of this year, with the channel set to mark its 20th anniversary on 1st November. Originally formed as a 50-50 ownership venture between the BBC and Thames Television - which was to lose its ITV franchise on 1st January 1993 - to showcase the burgeoning classic programme catalgoues of both, what has grown into the multi-channel UKTV network is now wholly owned by BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.
Previous original GOLD programming has been limited to documentaries and clip shows related to the classic series that air on the channel. Fawlty Towers: Re-Opened, Fry And Laurie: Reunited, The Royle Family Portraits and, most recently, Sitcom Does..., are amongst the most recent such productions. However, this new announcement concerns a bigger investment, with the aim being to create hit new comedy shows.
UKTV executive Jane Rogerson emphasised to Broadcast that the commissions would be high-quality, as "they'd need to sit confidently alongside classics such as Only Fools And Horses and The Vicar Of Dibley." She added: "GOLD is well entrenched in the UK's psyche as the home of national treasure comedies, so we cannot afford to look cheap next to those programmes. It's important that anything we order continues that love and feel, but we don't want to look back; we want a contemporary stamp on the channel."
Commissioning editor Sarah Fraser comments: "There's never been a better time to invest in homegrown comedy. Comedians are selling out arena tours, being cast in the West End and on the big screen here and in the US."
News about the first new commissions for the channel is expected during the summer.
Rob Brydon is set to host a BBC Children in Need concert that will star Sir Tom Jones, and feature 'live and pre-recorded comedy pieces' about the singer.
Dave has confirmed the commissioning of Crackanory Series 3, with readers set to include Back To The Future star Christopher Lloyd, Sarah Millican and Greg Davies.
Robert Lindsay and Maureen Lipman will head up the cast of Bull, a TV sitcom set in an antiques shop.
Happy Days star Henry Winkler is to return to CBBC for a third series of his comedy drama, Hank Zipzer.
Phillip Schofield will return to ITV with four new episodes of comedy game show You're Back In The Room, in which contestants compete for cash whilst under hypnosis.
Spitting Image producer John Lloyd says he wants to bring back the satirical puppet format, possibly as an online show.
The comedians involved in new channel Dave show Taskmaster talk about taking part in the bizarre challenges. Read
Kunt And The Gang - the musical comedy act delivers 'songs of questionable taste' - talks about his career. Read
Glory Pearl explains why she will be performing her Edinburgh Fringe shows totally naked. Read
Milton Jones, Katherine Ryan and Seann Walsh, amongst the many comedians at Reading and Leeds festivals. Read