Drop the Dead Donkey duo creates new BBC1 comedy

Drop the Dead Donkey creators Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton have been commissioned to make a new comedy for BBC1 which will be part-scripted, part-improvised.

Called Outnumbered, the comedy stars Claire Skinner, Hugh Dennis and Samantha Bond and is about two parents trying to raise their three children.

The comedy is part of BBC1′s autumn line-up, which also includes the Cranford Chronicles, a period drama series based on three Elizabeth Gaskell novels starring Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton and Philip Glenister. The series has been written by Heidi Thomas.

Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist also features in the autumn schedule and will star Timothy Spall as Fagin and Tom Hardy as Bill Sikes. It has been adapted by Sarah Phelps and directed by Coky Giedroyc.

BBC1 will also show Miss Austen Regrets, a dramatisation of the last days of Jane Austen’s life, and Coming Down the Mountain, written by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time author Mark Haddon. Starring Skins actor Nicholas Hoult, the drama focuses on a teenager called David and the relationship he has with his 17-year-old brother, who has Down’s syndrome.

Other highlights include modern adaptations of fairy tales, including The Empress’s New Clothes, starring Denise Van Outen and written by True Dare Kiss and Cutting It creator Debbie Horsfield.

Meanwhile, Stephen Poliakoff has written Joe’s Palace, which will be transmitted in the autumn alongside new series of Waterloo Road and Spooks.

Comedy includes The Omid Djalili Show, a mix of sketches and stand-up from the comedian, and Learners, about a group of learner drivers, written by Jessica Hynes and starring David Tennant.

In entertainment, the BBC will broadcast the Eurovision Dance Contest, featuring dancing couples from 16 countries across Europe and The World’s Greatest Elvis, in which Elvis tribute acts from around the world will battle it out to be crowned best impersonator.

The BBC has also announced a documentary about the reforming of the Spice Girls, who were formed after responding to an advert placed in The Stage.

BBC1 controller Peter Fincham said the line-up was an “exciting one at a time when BBC1 is in good shape”.

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