British broadcaster Channel 4 is doubling down on comedy after handing the genre a £10M (US$13.4M) budget boost and scoring a number of projects involving Catastrophe creator Sharon Horgan.
Horgan will star and exec produce Happy AF (w/t), a comedy about trying to find happiness. Created by Aisling Bea, who is set to star in Amy Poehler’s forthcoming NBC comedy I Feel Bad, the series stars her as Aine, who is trying to pull her life back together after a nervous breakdown. Horgan, who produces through her Merman banner, also stars as her sister Shona.
Horgan is also producing Next Week’s News, a TV pilot from Deborah Frances-White, the creator of The Guilty Feminist podcast. The 45-minute show will be based in a studio, overseen by a female-led production team, with followers encouraged to speak out on a range of issues. Merman, which is run by Horgan and her producing partner Clelia Mountford, will produce.
Horgan’s involvement in two C4 shows will be a boon for the linear broadcaster, particularly as she recently signed an overall deal with Amazon.
The series will form part of Channel 4’s “comedy sandpit” and marks the first major programming moves by recently installed content chief Ian Katz. The former Guardian and BBC exec outlined his initial vision for the broadcaster in a packed room of British TV executives, including Expectation Entertainment co-founder and former ITV content boss Peter Fincham, Studio Lambert boss Stephen Lambert and Richard McKerrow, boss of The Great British Bake Off producer Love Productions, that he wanted to create a “comedy sandpit”.
Katz also revealed plans to bolster the 11pm slot, saying that he wanted it to be the “most creative space on British TV”, a slot that has previously featured anarchic formats including The Word.
Meanwhile, E4, which airs series such as Made In Chelsea and was responsible for The Inbetweeners, has been handed an additional budget of £10M (US$13.4M) and will get its own dedicated controller.
Elsewhere, presenter Jamali Maddix, who recently presented Vice’s Hate Thy Neighbour, will explore the wild west frontier of our the new digital era in a three-part series produced by Acme Films. Futureproof will follow Jamali as he meets the people finding new ways to sell sex, become celebrities – and maybe even change the world.
In entertainment, All3Media-backed Studio Lambert is producing The Circle, which will ask provocative questions about modern identity, how we portray ourselves and how we communicate through social media. The reality series, which is co-produced by Motion Content Group, will see contestants compete in an online popularity contest to win up to £50,000. Also o a social media tip, Sony’s Electric Ray is pilot Antisocial Media anarchic, clip based topical comedy pilot to fit Katz’s 11pm strategy.
Also at 11pm, Fincham and Tim Hincks’ Expectation is making a six-part series featuring rapper Big Narstie. The Big Narstie Show, co-produced with Dice Productions, will see Ed Sheeran’s best friend perform in front of a live studio audience.
Actress Kathy Burke is also set to discover what it’s like to be a woman in 2018 in a three-part series from Flicker Productions. Kathy Burke: All Woman will see Burke give her unique take on her sex and plans to step into the shoes of some very modern women to see what their different takes on femininity can tell us.
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