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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK


French and Saunders head autumn season

Romp: Sitcom first for French and Saunders

The first major sitcom starring French and Saunders, two big name war dramas and landmark factual and science programmes feature in BBC One's new £195m autumn season.

Comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders will appear together in Let Them Eat Cake, a romp written by Peter Learmouth, described as "murder, scandal and lots of 'rumpo' involving mad aristocrats in the court of Louis XVI".

[ image: Siwtching channels: The Royle Family are back]
Siwtching channels: The Royle Family are back
The pair have enjoyed sitcom success apart - Saunders with Absolutely Fabulous and French with Murder Most Horrid and Richard Curtis's The Vicar Of Dibley.

More new comedy in the autumn schedule will come from Birds Of A Feather writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran in their first pre-watershed sitcom called Starting Out.

Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash's comic success The Royle Family graduates to BBC One for its second series after winning big audiences on BBC Two.

All-star dramas

Two of television's most popular actors will star in separate wartime dramas.

[ image: Drama: Wartime role for David Jason]
Drama: Wartime role for David Jason
David Jason stars with Maggie Smith in All The King's Men, a dramatisation of the legend surrounding the disappearance of an entire company at Gallipoli in the First World War.

Welsh heart-throb Ioan Gruffudd, who shot to fame in Great Expectations and Hornblower, stars in Warriors, a Bosnia drama written by Peter Kosminsky.

[ image: Great Expectations: Ioan Gruffudd hoping for more success]
Great Expectations: Ioan Gruffudd hoping for more success
Other series scheduled include costume drama Wives and Daughters starring Bill Paterson, Michael Gambon and Francesca Annis, as well as Pure Wickedness, penned by Hope and Glory's Lucy Gannon, starring Kevin Whately.

Returning for new series will be Jonathan Creek, Casualty, Holby City, Dangerfield and Ballykissangel.

Landmark series

Real-life testimony about the crucial months of 1940 in the Second World War will feature in Finest Hour, a factual series by Brian Lapping.

Walking With Dinosaurs is a ground-breaking recreation of prehistoric life, using stunning computer animation.

Celebrity globetrotter Michael Palin is back with a new travel series, this time following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway in Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure.

[ image: Michael Palin's back following in Hemingway's footsteps]
Michael Palin's back following in Hemingway's footsteps
Prime Minister John Major's premiership will be summed up in The Major Years.

BBC One controller Peter Salmon said: "What this autumn on BBC One represents is something the commercial sector can't or won't produce.

"There are no rights to be bought for a king's ransom. It's not about poaching stars, it's not about imitating innovative formats. It is about ambition, quality, commitment and talent.

"I wanted to create a rich mosaic of high quality drama with range and integrity. Contemporary drama, comedy drama, family drama and period drama - and all from the best writing talent in the country.

"Andrew Davies, Paula Milne, Lucy Gannon, Debbie Horsfield, Alma Cullen, Susan Oudot, David Renwick - the list goes on - and starring the finest names. This autumn it comes to fruition."

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