Entertainment & Arts

Outnumbered returns for final series

Cast of Outnumbered Image copyright Hat Trick
Image caption The young cast have all grown up considerably since the first series in 2007

Award-winning sitcom Outnumbered is to return for a fifth and final series on BBC One later this month.

The semi-improvised show stars Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner as two stressed-out parents whose unruly children cause chaos wherever they go.

It had been rumoured that 2011's fourth series would be the last because its young stars were growing up.

But they reunited last year for a final outing, with producers saying further one-off specials may follow.

Tyger Drew-Honey, who plays eldest child Jake, is now 17, while his co-stars Daniel Roche (Ben) is 14 and Ramona Marquez (Karen) is 12.

"As we've all gotten older, everyone's matured; maybe with the exception of Hugh and Claire," said Drew-Honey.

"But Dan, Ramona and I are now able to work more professionally."

"It wasn't much different," added Marquez, who was five when she filmed the first series in 2007, "I saw a bit more of the script that's all."

Image caption The fourth series averaged 7.5 million viewers in 2011

Outnumbered is written by the creators of Drop The Dead Donkey, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin.

They said the filming process had changed slightly for the final series.

"Inevitably, as the kids get older, their minds go off on fewer absurd tangents, so, yes, there is a little less improvisation," they said in a statement announcing the new series.

"But they didn't get given scenes to learn overnight, they just skim-read them on the day.

"Two cameras are also used to record the children's performances because each take turned out to be different, and this adds to the documentary feel. The cameras always run on the children first because until they are recorded, no-one knows what they are going to say."

After making its debut on BBC One in 2007, Outnumbered has won several awards from the Royal Television Society, Broadcasting Press Guild and the British Comedy Awards.

Speaking to What's On TV magazine in 2011, Drew-Honey admitted the show had a limited lifespan.

"I think there is a chance of a fifth series, but I don't think it will go much further than that," he said.

"The point of Outnumbered is that it is set around the house with the school run and the madness of that. If everyone is mature I just don't think it will work."

The fifth series starts on 29 January, with guest appearances from Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey), Harry Shearer (The Simpsons) and Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It).

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