After a comedy drought this summer, there is a torrent of TV comedies ready to be unleashed this autumn. Many of them will be very familiar, with Have I Got News For You returning for series number forty-two (42!). Joining HIGNFY will be the usual panel show fodder, from the good-natured QI, which runs until Christmas, to the more mean and fast-paced Mock The Week to 8 Out Of Ten Cats, which is somewhere in-between. Also returning is another series of the circus of duplicity that is Would I Lie To You? It seems as if the broadcasters have gone with the more tried-and-tested method when it comes to the panel shows that hit our screens over the coming months.
Despite channels sticking to their old shows, there has been some room made for new sitcoms, and Channel 4 are providing most of these with Comedy Lab and Comedy Showcase, which will air the pilot episodes of twelve prospective series. While this makes it look as if C4 are investing a lot into new comedies, in reality showing these pilots seems a little indecisive and might frustrate a viewer looking to enjoy a brand new series of something. This said, the variety of talent on show makes up for the lack of continuity, with the excellent Angelos Epithemiou (played by Dan Skinner), Milton Jones and Rhys Darby all being comedy showcased.
One new programme Channel 4 fancied making full-sized is Fresh Meat, the new sitcom vehicle for Jack Whitehall. Many have their reservations about Whitehall, seeing him as a flash in the pan, but I think he is misunderstood as a stand-up. What will be interesting will be to see how he does as a comic actor. Set at a university and with Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show, The Thick Of It) in the writing team, this show could become a student hit. There are also the ongoing series of Outnumbered and Shameless to keep us going.
ITV have unfortunately seen fit to recommission the awkward Chiles vehicle That Sunday Night Show, which is a shame. Also from ITV we have Celebrity Juice and The Jonathan Ross Show, which – rather like Adrian Chiles – just doesn’t seem right having jumped ship to commercial television. Despite some obvious turkeys, there should be some good comedy on TV over the next few months, although most of the laughs will come from panel shows rather than scripted comedy.