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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC Two commissions new comedy series Handle With Prayer starring Tom Hollander

BBC Two announces Handle With Prayer (working title), a new six-part comedy from Big Talk Productions. Created by James Wood and Tom Hollander and written by James Wood the series will mark a return to TV for director Peter Catanneo (The Full Monty).

The BBC's Simon Wilson and Big Talk Chief Executive Kenton Allen will be executive producers on the series that goes into production in January 2010.

Handle With Prayer is a contemporary sitcom about the enormous daily frustrations and moral conflicts of the Rev Andrew Smallbone (Tom Hollander).

He's a C of E vicar, newly promoted from a sleepy rural parish to the busy, socially-divided world of St Botolph's in Kennington, South London.

It's a very modern world he has no experience of. And it shows.

Cheryl Taylor, Controller Of Comedy Commissioning, says: "We're thrilled to be working with Big Talk on Handle With Prayer.

"It's a distinctive script with the brilliant Tom Hollander in the lead and promises to be a hilarious portrayal of the many challenges facing the modern clergy."

Kenton Allen said: "Lifting the lid on the modern church has revealed a world full of comic possibilities.

"Although the UK is supposedly an increasingly secular place, when it comes to the major events in our lives – weddings, births, deaths and the education of our children – many of us still turn to the church and, as we all know, it's easier for a rich man to get his child into a church school than it is for a single mother with a bad credit rating to get a roof over her head... and all are equal in the eye of the Lord.

"Handle With Prayer is the antithesis of any religious comedy you've ever seen."

Handle With Prayer is based on in-depth research with a number of senior church insiders and is dripping with bang up-to-date authenticity to present a 21st century version of the TV vicar never seen before.

Andrew's church sees the inner-city world in microcosm, and he isn't allowed to turn anybody away.

Anybody can and does walk into the church – and into Andrew's life – from scheming, hypocritical MPs to local criminals. From urban sophisticates to the chronically lonely, the homeless, the drug addicts, the lost, the poor and, occasionally, the insane.

Handle With Prayer is a series that shows what an impossibly difficult job it is being a good, modern, urban priest.

Creator Tom Hollander is an acclaimed actor most recently seen in the BBC's Desperate Romantics and the movie In The Loop.

Amongst many other roles he played Lord Cutler Bucket in two Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, King George V in the BBC's award-winning The Lost Prince and Guy Burgess in Cambridge Spies.

Writer and co-creator James Wood is the creator of BBC Two's critically-acclaimed comedy series Freezing starring Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander and Elizabeth McGovern.

Handle With Prayer will be an authentic, albeit highly comic, portrayal of modern life in an inner city church. Heavily researched and supported by high-profile insiders.


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