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BBC Radio 4 to celebrate classic comedy in new series

Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Armando Iannucci will all feature in What’s Funny About…

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Jennifer Saunders will feature in a new BBC Radio 4 series looking at how some of the country’s best-loved comedies came to be (PA)

Jennifer Saunders will feature in a new BBC Radio 4 series looking at how some of the country’s best-loved comedies came to be (PA)

Jennifer Saunders will feature in a new BBC Radio 4 series looking at how some of the country’s best-loved comedies came to be (PA)

Some of the UK’s best-known comedy stars will reveal how shows including The Vicar Of Dibley, The Thick Of It and Absolutely Fabulous made it to the screen.

BBC Radio 4 Extra’s What’s Funny About… will feature TV veterans Peter Fincham and Jon Plowman talking to the writers, producers and performers behind some of the UK’s biggest TV comedies.

Listeners will hear the inside story of how they brought their programmes to the screen.

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Dawn French (Matt Crossick/PA)

Dawn French (Matt Crossick/PA)

PA

Dawn French (Matt Crossick/PA)

Guests include Dawn French and Richard Curtis on The Vicar Of Dibley, Armando Iannucci and Rebecca Front on The Thick Of It, Meera Syal and Anil Gupta on Goodness Gracious Me, Jennifer Saunders on Absolutely Fabulous and Hugh Bonneville and John Morton on W1A.

Saunders says she wrote sitcom Absolutely Fabulous “out of necessity” and “needing to be employed”.

“It was terrifying because I’d never written on my own before,” she said. “And I’d never written a sitcom or anything that was dramatic or longer than a sketch. So it was kind of frightening.

“Maybe they should all be kinder to each other? Maybe they should have a dog? I didn’t know what sitcoms had in them. And I just thought, no, I’m going to write it as I would write it.”

The BBC also announced a new one-off Down The Line: Lockdown Special.

The spoof phone-in show is hosted by Gary Bellamy and features stars including Rhys Thomas, Amelia Bullmore and Paul Whitehouse.

Tony Pilgrim, head of programming for 4 Extra, said: “Radio 4 Extra has always provided listeners with treasures from our rich archive – but in these current times comedy is more important than ever.”

What’s Funny About… can be heard on Radio 4 Extra and BBC Sounds, with new episodes on Wednesdays at 10.30pm from May 13.

Down The Line: Lockdown Special is on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds on Thursday May 14 at 11pm.

PA