BBC unveils new comedies by David Walliams and Ben Elton

BBC1 has ordered new comedies written by David Walliams and Ben Elton, and a drama starring Gabriel Byrne.

Danny Cohen, BBC1 controller, announced the commissions today at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Walliams’ comedy is called Autumn Leaves and is being made by the BBC. Walliams will star in the six-part comedy, which is set in a secondary school.

The BBC said it is about “a dysfunctional staff room, unrequited love and interactive white boards”.

Walliams said: “I am delighted to be back at the BBC, writing and acting in a new sitcom.”

Elton’s comedy is called Slings and Arrows and is being made by Phil McIntyre Television. It will star David Haig as a council officer, described by the BBC as a “man dedicated to the minimisation of risk, even where no actual risk exists”.

Speaking about the comedy, Elton said: “All my happiest television memories concern BBC comedy and in particular BBC sitcoms. It’s an honour and a privilege to get the chance to be a part of that tradition again and I’m as excited today as I was when The Young Ones was commissioned 30 years ago.”

Meanwhile, Quirke is a three-part drama by screenwriters Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, based on the books by Benjamin Black.

The series will star Byrne as the chief pathologist in the Dublin City Morgue, described as “a charismatic loner whose job takes him into unexpected places as he uncovers the secrets of sudden death in 1950s Dublin”.

Cohen also announced today a new drama called The Ark, a six-part series written by Sarah Phelps that is being made by the BBC.

It is set in the First World War and is described by the BBC as “the story of the First World War’s frontline medics – their love affairs, professional triumphs, personal tragedies, fears and hopes as they fight for the future”.

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