In March of 2014, following in the footsteps of a trend of reviving old shows the BBC announced the return of the classic Comedy Playhouse.

The press release headline read:

“Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, has announced the commissioning of three brand-new half-hour one-off specials forming a Comedy Playhouse season for BBC One.”

The short season followed in the footsteps of some of the all time best loved sitcoms, including: Steptoe And Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Are You Being Served? and Last Of The Summer Wine, all of which were born out of the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse season before they became successful series.

Of course originally there were two series intended as a vehicle for Ray Galton and Alan Simpson after their huge success with Tony Hancock on both TV and Radio.  Two series of one off sitcoms on a subject of their choosing and a complete free hand.  Under the title Galton and Simpson’s Comedy Playhouse it ran for two years in 1962 and 1963.  The series would continue without Galton and Simpson (after they were persuaded to write a full series of Steptoe) until 1975.  We will look at the original later in this series.

BBC Comedy Playhouse 2014 ran for three episodes between April and May of this year.

Summary

Miller’s Mountain (w/t)

When the naïve and enthusiastic Conor reports for his first day as a volunteer, Jimmy, the shambolic old rescue hand, takes it upon himself to teach him the ‘ways of the hills’.

Conor’s education begins in the pub, where he’s introduced to the small mountain community of Bernie, Bill, Jules and Lady C. Bernie is head of operations, happy to the point of delirium in her work. Bill spends every living hour looking after dogs and his social skills have suffered as a result. Lady C, a reckless thrill-seeker, owns the land on which they live, and Jules, a no-nonsense barmaid, runs the pub.

When the actual mountain rescuing begins, things go from bad, to worse, to even worse than that.

Over To Bill

This was the one that many believed might just make it to a full series.

When BBC Weatherman Bill Onion (Hugh Dennis) is fired from the BBC. Bill finds getting back on TV much harder than expected. First port of call is best friend Jez (Neil Morrissey), who knows Nigel Harrington, a Channel 4 bigwig, but Jez is about to get married and his wife-to-be, Selina (Helen George) is systematically culling all of Jez’s idiotic friends. Supported by his wife, Faith (Tracy-Ann Oberman), it’s imperative for Bill not to offend Selina, in order to have schmooze time with Harrington.

Monks

Gary Woodcroft (Seann Walsh) is in his late 20s and has never done a single useful thing in his life. He’s been the living definition of the word ‘chillax’, straddling a narrow line between unemployed and unemployable. Then, after years of dubious benefit claiming, he finds himself finally threatened with prosecution. Faced with the real prospect of prison, he decides to do what anyone would… run away and hide in his local monastery. Turns out escaping being banged up by becoming a monk wasn’t the easy option.

Meanwhile, Rudley Abbey is desperate. The number of monks in any given Abbey is strictly monitored, and last year Brother Christopher left to get married… to Brother Benjamin. Now they’re below the required minimum of five, and if the Vatican finds out they’ll be closed down.

While the Abbey might have a leaky roof, no heating and a structurally unsound bell tower, none of the brothers can contemplate life anywhere else, so when Gary turns up on their doorstep it seems like a Godsend, at least at first…

Clips

Miller’s Mountain (w/t)

Over To Bill

Regretably no preview clips exist for this episode

Monks

Cast

Miller’s Mountain

Jimmy Chisholm
Sharon Rooney
Kevin Guthrie
David Ireland
Kath Howden
Jonathan Watson
Sheila Reid

Over To Bill

Hugh Dennis
Neil Morrissey
Tracy-Ann Oberman
Helen George

Monks

James Fleet
Mark Heap
Justin Edwards
Fergus Craig
Seann Walsh

Details

Miller’s Mountain

Channel: BBC1
Written By: Donald McLeary
Original Transmission Date: 6th May 2014
Over To Bill

Channel: BBC1
Written By: Doug Naylor
Original Transmission Date: 29th April 2014

Monks

Channel: BBC1
Written By: Danny Robins
Original Transmission Date: 13th May 2014

At the time of this post September 2014, none of the episodes had been commissioned for a full series.

Next Post in this series: Countdown begins as we look at the popular and the new sitcoms of 2014 back to 2010

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