Network teams with Saunders on new comedies
BBC America and “Ab Fab” creator-star Jennifer Saunders are teaming to co-produce a pair of original comedies — including a sort of British “Golden Girls” — for the Stateside cabler.Saunders will write and star in both series, one of which reunites her with “Ab Fab” co-star Joanna Lumley and the other toplining Miranda Richardson. Jon Plowman (“The Office”) is exec producing both shows, each of which has received a seven-episode order. Skeins are co-productions of the BBC, BBC America plus Saunders and French. BBC America general manager Kathryn Mitchell said Saunders is one of the few Brit TV stars to have a show “that really poked through to the U.S.” “Of course, for BBC America, anything that Jennifer does piques my interest,” she said. First show up is “Clatterford,” which brings Saunders and Lumley back together in a series centered on the misadventures of a women’s club in a small English town. Show will premiere in the first quarter. “This show immediately felt like ‘Golden Girls,’” Mitchell said. “It’s similar to ‘Ab Fab’ in that it deals with women, but these are much older women who live in the country.” Story follows widow Sal Vine (Sue Johnston), who joins the club after the death of her husband. Her arrival ignites a flurry of gossip within the women’s circles. Lumley plays an unglamorous eccentric who causes mischief in the town, while Saunders will play busybody Caroline. It’s the first teaming of the pair since “Ab Fab,” which ended its five-season run in 2003. Dawn French, Pauline McLynn, Sally Phillips and David Mitchell also star. Second series on the lineup for next year is “The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle,” which co-stars Richardson in a femme version of “The Larry Sanders Show.” Black comedy is described as a talkshow sendup with Saunders playing the titular Vyle, beloved host of a British live therapy show, and Richardson portraying her ambitious producer Helena. Tanya Byron (BBC America’s “Little Angels”) will co-write the series with Saunders.