Paul Merton, the star of satirical news quiz show Have I Got News For You is reportedly returning to his improv roots with a show called Thank God You're Here.
The star is currently working on the ITV1 pilot, which is based upon a hit Australian show of the same title. The premise is that a guest comedian or celebrity must walk through a door into an unknown scenario whereby a group of actors greet them with the phrase "Thank God you're here...". The comedian or celebrity must then ad-lib their way through the scene. Each episodes contains four scenarios - a different guest tackling each.
Previous scenarios to have aired on the Australian version have included a starship, a car crashed through a living room wall and a hopsital operating theater.
Thank God You're Here was the most successful new show in Australia in 2006, attracting an average of 1.7 million viewers after just a few weeks. The format has since been sold to Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden and the United States. It should be noted though that the American version, which began airing on NBC in April 2007, didn't take off as expected though and was cancelled in May.
ITV will no doubt have their fingers crossed that the UK version sees the same kind of success as it has done Down Under because the broadcaster is currently very eager to build up a portfolio of hit comedies. So far only Harry Hill's TV Burp has picked up great ratings and reviews.
Paul Merton, who rose to fame via Channel 4's hit improvisation show Whose Line is it Anyway?, is currently working on the TalkbackThames produced pilot, although it is not known in what capacity yet. He may be taking on the role of host, or be a regular performer or there is speculation the comedian will be both the host and a performer.
Here's a couple of clips from Australia's Channel 10 Thank God You're Here...
And Paul Merton on Whose Line Is It Anyway...