British Comedy Guide

The Hannigans - sitcom pilot


Dave Bush

  • Sunday 4th April 2021, 1:40pm
  • Canada
  • 2 posts

A newly retired American couple pack up and move to a small English village, but they're not getting the peaceful life they hoped for.

Larry and Joyce Hannigan have inherited property in the fictional English village of Tarslaw, just outside Newcastle. Larry suffered a mild heart attack at the age of 54, which convinced them both to pursue a slower, simpler life. Both recently retired and viewing life differently since the heart attack, they've bravely chosen to leave their life in Rochester, New York behind and create a new pastoral existence, free from the trappings of technology, noise and city bustle.

No car, no cell phones, no internet. As Joyce proclaims in the opening episode, "We want a peaceful life. With flowers and bicycles and tea and fish and chips." But instead of that new stress-free English country life, Joyce and Larry begin to feel like the victims of an elaborate practical joke.


Stephen Goodlad

  • Sunday 4th April 2021, 1:51pm
  • Mirfield, England
  • 4,112 posts

I read a few pages of the pilot.
I didn't get the 'com' part of sitcom.
It was interesting but very gentle.



  • Sunday 4th April 2021, 3:53pm [Edited]
  • Ludlow, England
  • 5,060 posts

Not enough happens for a pilot, IMHO.
Essentially you could fit what you've got into about 10 pages.
The 'mystery' that develops in Eps. 3,4 & 5 need to kick-off Episode One, I reckon
Careful of 'local' language - the woman seems to use a lot of UK idiom - Blimey, Squire, old chap - whilst Murphy goes a bit American - 'yard work' would be gardening - 'out back' isn't idiomatic either - 'round the back' possibly? And I doubt he'd have a pick up - and if he did it'd be a knackered Toyota!
Pg 4 (& 5) is very exposition heavy - you need to find a neater way to get this in (the Dinner Party flashback does a pretty good job)
Some of the back and forth banter is not worth the effort (eg the New York 'bit') - if it's going to sharp, it needs to be Neil Simon sharp.
I think the concept of the fish-out-of-water, fast-talking NY couple in little old England is fine - you just need to give them something to do.
A much used (but for good reason) technique is the cold open that sees our couple in a ludicrous situation - then winds back 24 hours or whatever to see how they got there (opening of Breaking Bad pilot is a prime example). Once you've decided what kind of trouble you want to get them in by the end of Ep 1 it might make for a brighter start.
You might want to 'de-gentle' the whole premise somewhat - gentle isn't getting a lot of traction right now.
Even stuff like The Durrells is actually quite 'big' when it comes to plot development.
Good luck.


Dave Bush

  • Sunday 4th April 2021, 5:25pm
  • Canada
  • 2 posts

Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated and useful. It pleases me that the word "gentle" was used - that was exactly the goal. The concept was largely inspired by Detectorists, which was a breath of fresh air, in my opinion. It had a sincere and gentle quality that I loved. We really tried to present ideas with subtlety.