This week sees the broadcast of the new pilot episode for revamped project, Monks, featuring TVO regulars Fergus Craig and Justin Edwards.
As we’ve mentioned previously, the project has been on-and-off for 14 years, no less – first appearing on radio as Hey Hey We’re The Monks – a one off episode of BBC Radio 2’s Comedy Showcase. Co-written by Danny Robbins (We Are History) and Dan Tetsell (Mongrels, Lab Rats), this pilot starred none other than future megastars Bill Bailey and Catherine Tate, yet it has never been repeated… lost into the ether (and the BBC Archives, we hope!).
Eight years later, and a non-broadcast tv pilot version featured James Corden, David Bamber, Geoffrey Whitehead and the addition of TVO regulars Fergus Craig (Colin and Fergus, Star Stories) and Justin Edwards (The Thick of It, Lifespam). Sadly, the show was not commissioned, and that, it seemed, was that.
Until January of this year, that is, when a new attempt at the format was filmed at Elstree. Standup and Mock The Week regular Seann Walsh is the new leading man, starring as benefits cheat Gary Woodcroft, who joins a religious order to avoid a jail term, only to find his choice of Rudley Abbey is just like prison, but with added praying.
Also along for the ride are Spaced veteran Mark Heap, The Vicar Of Dibley‘s James Fleet, former Have I Got News For You host Angus Deayton and, once more, Mssrs Craig and Edwards. It’s all gloriously silly fun in the traditional sitcom mould, so any fans of Graham Linehan’s output or more mainstream fair like Miranda and Not Going Out should definitely check it out. You can see a preview clip below:
The new pilot – For Whom The Bell Tolls – again written by Robbins, airs as the final edition of Comedy Playhouse this Tuesday evening at 10:40pm (11:10pm in Northern Ireland), and will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission. For a smattering of promotional images, look no further. Amen.