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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
BBC to screen 'risky' sitcom
Comedienne Meera Syal
Comedienne Meera Syal stars
BBC One has announced a "risky" new sitcom, which tackles issues such as mixed marriages, step families and disabilities.

The show, which is unnamed and in the early production stages, will feature a character with cerebral palsy, played by child actor Jamil Dhillon, 11, who has the condition.

BBC One Controller Lorraine Heggessey announced her new commission on Wednesday when talking to the Broadcasting Press Guild.

Heggessey, who has spoken openly of her mission to make BBC One less "old-fashioned", described the new comedy as "the riskiest sitcom" in the channel's history.

Jasper Carrot
Midlands comic Carrot co-stars in the "light-hearted" show

Although still in its early stages, the show has lined up comedians Meera Syal and Jasper Carrot to take the lead roles.

The series is being produced by independent company Celador Productions.

A spokeswoman for Celador said the comedy was set in the Midlands and centred around a married couple who had both been married before and had children from both relationships.

The spokeswoman added: "The series is a light-hearted reflection of modern family life. Lots of people now live with disability and mixed race in their families. We hope people will take it in this way."

However, she also said Celador was expecting some people to react against the show.

'Dynamic'

While at the Guild, Heggessey was quizzed about the BBC's plans for covering the death of the Queen Mother.

She said the corporation was "assesssing the tone of the coverage" the coverage of the Queen Mother's death for the future.

Lorraine Heggessey
Heggessey: Mission to keep BBC One up-to-date

A BBC spokeswoman later denied reports in the UK press that Heggessey's comments were intended to mean that coverage of the Queen Mother's death was to be scaled back.

Heggessey took over as BBC One chief on 1 November 2000 and her performance has been broadly welcomed.

Most notably, she has been applauded for keeping the channel's audience share at 26% and for commissioning a range of praised new productions such as the drama Armadillo

But she has also been accused of selling out quality programming to the quest for high ratings, most notably by David Liddiment of ITV.

But Heggessey has defended herself saying that in the last year, BBC One has become "vibrant, dynamic and exciting" and "in tune with today's world".

See also:

04 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
BBC Queen Mother rethink denied
04 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
BBC revives classic sitcoms
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Hello again to Auf Wiedersehen Pet
14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
First woman to run BBC One
12 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Heggessey one year on
24 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Peaktime viewing gets factual
27 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
ITV Premiership ratings plunge
25 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC rejects ITV chief's criticism
12 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Millions watch attacks on live TV
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