Danny Boyle to direct comedy drama for Channel 4

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Danny Boyle, the filmmaker who created the Olympic opening ceremony, is to direct a contemporary comedy drama, called Babylon, for Channel 4.

The drama was announced by Jay Hunt, Channel 4 chief creative officer, at the Edinburgh Television Festival today.

She said that the series, written by Fresh Meat's Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, was “a police based comedy drama” that had not yet been cast, but would go into production next year.

She said the show added to the channel’s recent slate of dramas, including The Mill, which she claimed proved that Channel 4 was turning the “Big Brother dividend” –  the money saved from commissioning Big Brother – into "eye-catching programmes". The money freed up by Big Brother is estimated at around £40 million a year.

Hunt also confirmed that The Mill, which ended last Sunday with a 2-million audience, is expected to be recommissioned to return next year,  but that up for debate was whether it should have a run longer than the original four episodes.

She also said ”It has been a great year (for drama)” adding that Utopia, written by Dennis Kelly, was one of the "most exciting things on any channel in the last five years”.

Other new projects announced include a lengthy series called Indian Summer, about the birth of modern India, directed by Simon Curtis, a black comedy called No Offence by Paul Abbott, another series of Fresh Meat and a final The IT Crowd special.

There are also renewed efforts underway to create and find big entertainment and scripted comedy shows.

“We don’t want our comedy to entertain people in the outer reaches of the schedule. We want big laugh out loud pieces that audiences will come to,” Hunt said.