Bad Education and Detectorists get specials as BBC announces comedy investment

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The BBC has announced a host of new comedy programming as it promises to invest an extra £10 million into the genre over the next two years.

It comes as the broadcaster shared its plans for the future of comedy on the Beeb – and pledged to double the number of half-hour pilot episodes it makes.

Hit sitcom Bad Education will return for a 10-year anniversary, with Jack Whitehall reprising his role as teacher Alfie Wickers.

Graham Norton Show – London
Jack Whitehall will reprise his role in Bad Education for a 10-year anniversary special   (Matt Crossick/PA)

Whitehall said he is “so pumped” to return to the “show that launched my career”.

The Hollywood actor and comic, 33, said: “I have such fond memories and it will be great for the fans to check in and find out what class K have been up to since they left and if Alfie Wickers is still as much of a melt as they remember.

“The new rebooted series is so exciting. I’m so old and irrelevant, I’ve decided it’s best I take more of a producer role with Bad Education, but we’ve assembled a young, talented group of writers led by the brilliant Nathan Bryon, who will be carrying the torch.”

The Bafta-winning comedy Detectorists will also return after a five-year break for a 75-minute special.

The show’s writer and director Mackenzie Crook will be back to star alongside Toby Jones to offer fans an update on the lives of metal detecting hobbyists, Lance and Andy, later this year.

Crook, 50, said: “I’ve had a story percolating for a while and I thought it was worth getting Lance, Andy and the rest of the band back together for.

“The affection expressed for Detectorists over the years has been incredible and I hope fans of the show will enjoy this new, extended episode.”

Actor and comedian Mawaan Rizwan’s comedy Juice has been commissioned for a six-part series following a successful pilot episode.

The Writers Guild Awards 2019 – London
Mackenzie Crook will return to comedy Detectorists later this year for a 75-minute special (Ian West/PA)

And funnymen Jack Carroll and Tom Gregory have written a new comedy short titled Mobility for BBC Three.

It will follow three Huddersfield teenagers with nothing in common except for the mobility bus they catch to school.

Popular comedy shows Jerk, The Cleaner and Guilt have all been given further series.

BBC Comedy and BBC Sounds will also work together to commission four audio comedy pilots.

Their aim is to “work with new and emerging performers on crafting comedy characters or personas that have the potential to be developed further”.

The broadcaster is launching a new producer and director bursary to allow creatives to hone their crafts.

New comedy Juice starring Mawaan Rizwan and Russell Tovey has been commissioned for a first series (WarnerMedia/Liam Daniel/BBC/PA)

And the broadcaster will launch BBC Comedy Short Films in June, bringing their existing short-form strands together.

Speaking at the BBC Comedy Festival in Newcastle, the director of BBC Comedy Jon Petrie said the department is doing “phenomenally well” but wants to invest more in its “development process”.

He said it is looking for shows that “connect with our audience – whether they’re big and broad or weird and provocative”.

He said: “Worlds that the audience can see themselves in often connect in the deepest way; it’s no accident that it’s the family home and the workplace that have proved the most enduring settings for sitcoms.

“Some of the most creatively brilliant and popular shows of the last couple of years, like Ghosts and Motherland, have that classic DNA in them but we get pitched comparatively few of those kinds of shows. So bring us more!”

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