If this story of endurance and resourcefulness doesn’t warm the comedy cockles of your heart, we don’t know what will. Brenda Gilhooly, comedy writer and creator of ’90s comedy character Gayle Tuesday, Page Three stunner has written a sitcom starring Michelle Collins, Jack Dee, Romesh Ranganathan and Harry Hill called The Mayoress and billed as a cross between The Vicar of Dibley and The Thick of it.
Another day, another sitcom. Only this sitcom has its own back story. In order to get this sitcom made, after the BBC turned down the show which has been in development with Objective Television, Brenda is launching a crowdfunding campaign, with a £75,000 target.
Brenda explained this move: “So much creative stuff is happening online now there’s no need to wait for the commission from a traditional broadcaster, and you’re never really told why something’s been turned down, in fact I don’t even remember the name of the person who was supposed to have read it!
“I thought, ‘Well I still believe in it, there must be another way.’ So I showed the script to Jack Dee and Harry Hill and they really liked it. Then, brilliantly, Romesh and Michelle came on board and the fabulous director David Schneider offered to direct it and David Quantick joined too as a script editor.
“So it really started to gather momentum, which would never have happened if the script was still sitting on someone’s desk. It really is an amazing creative team with outstanding comedy credentials.”
Brenda herself will take the role of Susan, the glamorous new mayoress of the fictional borough of Mansford. Jack Dee plays the “pompous, daft” Tim while Michelle Collins plays Denise, “a bit nouveau, likes to swan around in her Phase Eight clothes like she owns the place.” Harry Hill is Roger the Registrar, who is “very silly, eccentric and not remotely in control of his Citizenship Ceremony” and lastly Romesh Ranganathan is Ravi and “the only sane one of the lot.”
The clearly enthusiastic cast have agreed to work for free and so the crowdfunding appeal is aimed only at covering the costs of a professional production costs of a pilot episode to be put online for free in the hope of selling it as a series to an on-demand broadcaster such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
“It’s empowering. Viewing habits are changing and with the social media revolution taking place, we believe we can now make the quality show we want to, funded entirely by the comedy fans who want it. Crowdfunding is a really exciting way to make innovative new comedy.
“And what’s brilliant about doing it this way is we can make the show we want without having to deal with all the normal restraints from a broadcaster, without loads of different people telling us what to do, which often stifles the originality or comic flair of a project. We’re connecting the comedian to the comedy lover and cutting out the middle man.”