BBC Four Acquires 'Parks & Recreation'

 NBC

LONDON - NBC comedy Parks & Recreation will come to the U.K., with BBC Four on Wednesday unveiling the acquisition of the series.

The news was part of a broader announcement about upcoming programming for the U.K. public broadcaster's digital arts network.

Among the other content it highlighted is Showtime documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic about the late comedian, which is being directed by Marina Zenovich (Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired).

The film is authorized by the comedy legend's family.

BBC Four controller Richard Klein said his programming plans include a year-long focus on comedy for the channel, which is known here for airing the original Danish version of AMC hit show The Killing.

"BBC Four is in really great shape at the moment, with [viewer] share continuing to increase," he said. "We’ve had a great critical and audience response to recent programs, from Food Glorious Food to the Big Science season, and, of course, the much anticipated return of The Killing III, which launched with over 1 million viewers."

He added: "Looking ahead, there’s much to look forward to, and I’m delighted that we have acquired Parks And Recreation, one of America’s smartest comedy series. To accompany this, the channel is taking a year-long look at comedy," including films celebrating some of the oldest jokes, "exploring what makes us laugh and showcasing some of our most popular comedians, from Richard Prior to Simon Amstel.”

Michael Grade And The World’s Oldest Joke will see the host trace the history of jokes with help from historians, academics, comedy experts and comedians. "Along the way he discovers what tickled the Tudors, ribbed the Romans and made Renaissance wits roar as he sets out to discover whether jokes come and go with the rise and fall of civilizations or whether we’re still laughing at the same things our ancestors did," BBC Four said.

And Tim Pigott-Smith (The Hour) is to star as British literary figure P.G. Wodehouse, in An Innocent Abroad, a one-off film for BBC 4.

The show promises a "warm, witty and intimate drama about his fall from grace and ultimate self-imposed exile from England."

The show will be made by Great Meadow Productions, the company behind The Long Walk to Finchley and the recent critically acclaimed adaptation of Room at the Top for BBC Four.

An Innocent Abroad focuses on the period from 1940, when Wodehouse, the father of Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings and the master of "fanciful plots," became a pawn in a tale of wartime propaganda.

Set in the summer of 1940, Wodehouse (Pigott-Smith) is living in Le Touquet, France but when the German Army descends, he is forced to leave wife Ethel (Zoe Wanamaker) and is taken to an internment camp in Tost, Upper Silesia.

During his imprisonment Wodehouse keeps an account of his experiences and amuses his fellow inmates with his witty observations. When news of Wodehouse’s internment is revealed in America, the German Foreign Ministry persuades him to broadcast to the US hoping Wodehouse's broadcasts will soften the Third Reich's image.

His compliance with German requests landed him in the middle of a scandalous storm back home in war torn England and with accusations of treachery brought to him by a young Malcolm Muggeridge (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Wodehouse and Ethel are forced into exile in America, never to set foot on British soil again.

The 75 minute drama is "soon to start filming in Belfast" the BBC said and is written by Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning writer Nigel Williams (Elizabeth), directed by Tim Fywell (I Capture the Castle) and produced by Kate Triggs (Room At The Top).

The executive producer is Robert Cooper (Room at the Top) along with Stephen Wright for BBC Northern Ireland.

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