UK terrestrial Channel 4 has put aside £5m (US$7.9m) for new comedies for 2011, with newly commissioned shows coming from stand-up comic Noel Fielding and stars of The Inbetweeners.
The broadcaster, already home to comedies such as Peep Show, The IT Crowd and Fonejacker, is adding the cash to next year's comedy budget as part of a major push into the genre following the ending of flagship reality series Big Brother.
"Channel 4's investment in comedy has risen sharply in the last two years - 2011 spend will be almost double 2009 levels - and the space Big Brother leaves puts us in the happy position of having even more hours to fill," C4's head of comedy Shane Allen said. "Just as well because, God knows, we could all do with a laugh at the moment."
Among those benefiting are Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, the stars of The Inbetweeners, who are hooking up with their part-time comedy partner Jonny Sweet for single-camera sitcom Chickens (working title). Part of C4's Comedy Showcase strand, it's set during First World War Britain and follows three conscientious objectors from a sleepy village. Big Talk Productions is onboard to produce.
For C4's diginet sister E4, Noel Fielding: Boopus (working title) features the eponymous Mighty Boosh star, and mixes sketches, animation, special guests and art segments. Derrin Schlesinger (Nathan Barley, Black Books) is producing.
Chris Addison's Show & Tell (working title) is a weekly series hosted by The Thick of It star and features stand-ups who chose an item to 'tell' a live audience about. Avalon Productions is onboard to produce.
C4's comedy commissioning editor Nerys Evans commissioned all three shows. Other new shows hitting C4 next year include Tramadol Nights, The Morgana Show and Campus.
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