Hugh Dennis is to star as a bungling BBC weatherman who gets axed over an ill-judged on-air gag in a new sitcom.

The comic actor – whose series Outnumbered recently came to an end – will star in the one-off BBC One programme Over To Bill, alongside Neil Morrissey who plays his best pal Jez.

Hugh plays weatherman Bill Onion who is fired after joking that the south of England is superior to the north, which sets off a chain of events which ends in his humiliation.

Also appearing in the half-hour pilot – written by Red Dwarf writer Doug Naylor – is former EastEnders star Tracy-Ann Oberman as his wife Faith.

Naylor – whose son Richard is the producer – said: “We think the show is going to be something really special, but then again we both thought Man Utd were going to win the league this year.”

The programme is part of a new Comedy Playhouse season on the channel, made up of three one-off shows.

Another of the shows is Monks, starring James Fleet. It is about a small religious order desperate to keep their run-down monastery going and are prepared to accept almost anyone to keep their numbers up.

The final show, with a working title of Miller’s Mountain, is about the antics of a group of hopeless Scottish mountain rescue volunteers.

The revival of the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse comes many years after it was a breeding ground for popular shows. Steptoe And Son, Are You Being Served? and Last Of The Summer Wine are among the favourites which began their lives as one-off episodes.

Shane Allen, the BBC’s controller for comedy commissioning, said: “BBC1 delivers enormous audiences for comedy and this season revival reflects our commitment in mainstream to do new and daring projects.

“We want BBC1 to fly the flag of popular British comedy and want this dedicated space to promote tomorrow’s classic comedy today.”

BBC3, which is earmarked for a move to the iPlayer, had in recent years been the nursery slope for new comedies.

 

Press Association