British Comedy Guide can today reveal the full line-up for the second run of Sketchorama, the Radio 4 series that aims to showcase the work of various sketch groups.
Notably, it has been confirmed that classic sketch group Absolutely will be reforming for a special one-off performance as part of the series.
Absolutely (pictured) was a popular sketch show which ran on Channel 4 between 1989 and 1993. Comprising of a mainly Scottish cast, the programme ran for a total of 28 episodes and introduced the public to characters including Frank Hovis, Bert Bastard and Denzil & Gwynedd.
Now, members of the cast will reunite to record sketches for one of the episodes in the new series of Sketchorama. Pete Baikie, Morwenna Banks, Moray Hunter, Gordon Kennedy and John Sparkes are all confirmed to take part.
The five stars will perform both new and classic material, using some of the show's favourite characters. Calum, Denzil & Gwynedd, The Little Girl and the Stoneybridge Town Council are likely to feature in the one-off special from the group.
The Absolutely cast are quoted as saying: "Stoneybridge Town Council Chair Brucie was delighted to hear the news that the council is to reconvene. 'It's a huge surprise and something of a bonus. I'd assumed we were all dead. I know I was.'"
The second series of Sketchorama will comprise of four episodes, each half an hour long. Humphrey Ker, who hosted Series 1, is unavailable this series as he is recording a pilot for NBC in America. His position will be filled by "fellow gentleman tramp" Thom Tuck.
Tuck (pictured), who performs with Ker in the group The Penny Dreadfuls, is a rising star of Radio 4, with his own stand-up series Thom Tuck Goes Straight to DVD due to start on the network on Tuesday.
Sketchorama is a format devised by producer Gus Beattie, which has the aim of providing a dedicated show for sketch acts. Production company The Comedy Unit explains: "Sketch show troupes are always well represented at the Edinburgh Fringe with over 100 acts performing this year, but apart from the live circuit there's never been a show purely for the sketch act genre. Sketchorama brings hidden gems and established live acts to the airwaves offering a truly distinctive and ambitious show for Radio 4."
British Comedy Guide can also exclusively reveal that, appearing alongside Absolutely on the new series will be The Beta Males, Shirley & Shirley, Jonny & the Baptists, Barbershopera, McNeill & Pamphilon, WitTank, So On And So Forth, That Pair and Sheeps.
Beattie says: "I'm delighted to be presenting yet another brilliant sketch group line up to the Radio 4 audience, and reforming Absolutely for a one-off gig for this series of Sketchorama is the icing on the cake."
More details on the groups that will appear in the series follows, with the biography notes supplied by the production company:
The Beta Males
The Beta Males are writer-performers John Henry Falle, Jon Gracey, Guy Kelly and Richard Soames and have been circuit and Fringe favourites since 2010. The critically acclaimed sketch-storytellers and waistcoat enthusiasts gained a raft of 5 and 4 star reviews for their three Fringe outings, and were nominated for the Chortle Award for Best Character or Sketch Act in 2012.
Shirley and Shirley are female double act Joanna Carolan and Pascale Wilson accompanied by co-creator and director, Michael Pearce. They have racked up four Fringe runs and an appearance at the Latitude Festival gaining rave reviews from the critics. Be prepared for inspired comic observation, top class character creations, and wonderfully dark ideas.
Jonny & The Baptists
Jonny & the Baptists are the world's first comedy-blues band. We think. Well, we haven't heard of any others. Featuring Jonathan Donahoe and Paddy Gervers these circuit favourites play satirical, political, edgy, silly but often sexy sketch comedy songs.
Six years ago Rob Castell and Tom Sadler came up with the idea to form a comedy musical quartet and Barbershopera was born. Since then the group has gone from strength to strength: winning a total of six Musical Theatre Matters awards over four years at the Edinburgh Festival; performing in London's West End two years running; and entertaining audiences around the UK on three successive tours.
McNeill & Pamphilon
Double act Steve McNeill and Sam Pamphilon have been performing their comedy socks off since 2009 and have won rave reviews for their three Fringe runs. They've become a regular fixture on the sketch circuit and have written for several other BBC projects and have contributed material to a number of pilots, with their own BBC sitcom script now in development. They both appeared on BBC One recently in Richard Hammond's Secret Service.
Three man 'sketchateers' Mark Cooper-Jones, Kieran Boyd and Naz Osmanoglu came together after achieving notable success as stand-ups on the circuit. Along with appearances on BBC Three's Live At The Electric, the boys are in the middle of a sell-out tour and host a London residency at The Courtyard Theatre in Shoreditch every month.
So On And So Forth
Posh sketch boys Nick Gadd, John Sherman and Martin Allanson have been performing together since 2010. In that time they have chalked up an acclaimed Fringe debut and picked up a Cofilmic Comedy Film Award for best sketch in 2011.
That Pair are Kathryn Bond and Lorna Shaw, who met at Bretton Hall where they discovered their mutual love of being from Essex. After graduating with one degree each in Theatre Acting they have worked as professional actresses ever since. They came out of the comedy closet in 2010 as a female musical comedy duo.
Sheeps are still Daran Johnson, Alastair Roberts and Liam Williams. Three erudite young chaps doing sketches, and then do themselves reflecting on their own sketches. Sheeps are graduates of that most venerable of comedy finishing schools, Cambridge Footlights.
The second series of Sketchorama is being recorded now in London and Glasgow. At the time of writing tickets are available for the Glasgow gig, which will feature the Absolutely team reunion. It takes place at the Oran Mor on Byres Road on Tuesday 16th April and tickets can be requested by e-mailing your name and how many tickets you require to: firstname.lastname@example.org (max 6 tickets per request).