Up Next 2023: Back to Brassic and much more besides… Sky announces an exciting year for new and returning original comedies

Thursday 2 February 2023
  • First look at Lily Allen and Freema Agyeman in Dreamland
  • Danny Dyer’s comedy debut in Mr Bigstuff
  • Timothy Spall and James Nesbitt join Sky Christmas special Joy To The World (w/t)
  • Jennifer Saunders joins David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed for this year’s special of Intelligence

Comedy on Sky is bouncing into 2023 like Farmer Jim on a pogo stick. As Brassic is back for a fifth season, and Intelligence confirms for a one-off special, our favourite returners are joined by four brand-new Sky Originals launching across the year with more to be announced.

We start with romantic comedy from Roughcut TV, Smothered (w/t), written by Monica Heisey (Schitt’s Creek), starring British talent Danielle Vitalis (I May Destroy You) and Jon Pointing (Big Boys) as two sex starved strangers who agree to some no strings fun. Until the strings begin to appear.

Ryan Sampson (Brassic, Plebs), authors Mr Bigstuff in which estranged brothers Glen (Sampson) and Lee, played by Danny Dyer (Eastenders) in his TV comedy debut, try to patch up a sibling rivalry that may well be beyond repair. Or beyond Spare.

Also hitting Sky screens in 2023 is the recently announced, Dreamland starring Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who) and Lily Allen (How to Build a Girl) following a family of four sisters, their mum and their nan in the seaside town of Margate.

And we wrap up the year with the Christmas special, Joy To The World (w/t), starring BAFTA winner Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) and James Nesbitt (The Missing) as two Santa’s with very different agendas.

As part of today’s commissioning announcements, Sky released the first look trailer for Dreamland, a series about secrets, lies, loves and aspirations within a family of four sisters. Set in the sun-drenched British seaside town of Margate, it is a dark comedic exploration of multi-generational female relationships, and their (somewhat dysfunctional) family dynamics.

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Speaking to the newly announced commissions, Jon Mountague, Director of Comedy at Sky Studios said: “2023 is going to be a blistering year for comedy on Sky. With returning favourites like Brassic and a crop of box fresh shows, with undeniably dynamic talent, Sky continues to be the home of UK comedy”

Ryan Sampson, writer and star of Mr Bigstuff: “As a particularly short gay dude, I’m fascinated by masculinity; by all the ways that we’re trying and failing to do it right. Maybe it’s because of some unresolved short-man issues. Maybe it’s because of that one time in PE when Mr Walker told me to “stop crying and start being a man, Sampson”. I probably should have gotten therapy, but instead I’ve written a show about it. It’s about fragile masculinity - about men and how fucked up we are. Also about families, and how fucked up they are too. I can’t believe how lucky I am in having Danny Dyer himself joining me for the ride.”

Danny Dyer, commenting on his role in Mr Bigstuff: “Following my nutty exit from Eastenders I feel like it’s time to recalibrate and try something a bit new. When I read the role of Lee I was honoured to be asked to develop an exciting character and explore his dysfunctional fucked up family relationships. I fell in love with Ryan Sampson while working with him on Plebs. I can’t wait to get involved with his incredible writing”

Monica Heisey said on Smothered (w/t):“As a superfan of romantic comedies, it’s been a dream come true to get a crack at one myself, especially with such a talented cast and crew.”

David Livingstone, exec producer for Brassic said: “Who can believe it. Series five. The only way to go on is to be more audacious and more ambitious than ever. Nobody is resting on their laurels. Five will be our best yet. It’s classic Brassic.”

Timothy Spall on his role in Joy To The World (w/t):“I’m delighted to be involved with this unique festive adventure. It’s a rare thing that a story has the perfect mixture of social commentary grit, suspense, emotional bite and original comedy, plus a myriad of Santas (one of them possibly the real one)! I’m looking forward to working with Ed Hall and the fabulous team that’s being packed up into what promises to be an extremely novel festive pressie!”

James Nesbitt said on his role: “It is incredibly exciting to be back in Belfast and part of something that is both funny, heartwarming and yet which also holds a mirror up to society. The script lifts your spirits while brilliantly addressing the cost of living crisis affecting so many families in the UK and Ireland right now. It’s also a joy to be reunited with my old cell mate Timothy Spall.”

The announcements made today join a raft of original and exclusive TV shows and films coming to Sky in 2023, offering customers more value and choice than ever before. Check out what’s coming Up Next on Sky screens in 2023 here.

For more information please contact: sarah.gutierrez@sky.uk

Full details of Sky’s 2023 Original comedy slate:

Intelligence Special (1x60), Sky Comedy and NOW, April 2023:

They’ve countered the Russians, they’ve foiled a plot to disrupt the NHS and they’ve prevented a nuclear disaster... But in this one-off special, the latest threat to our gang at the Government Communications Headquarters is personal. With the future of CySec at stake, the team have to go rogue to save their reputations and their jobs.

From Expectation for Sky, starring David Schwimmer (Jerry), Nick Mohammed (Joseph), Jane Stanness (Mary), Sylvestra Le Touzel (Christine), Gana Bayarsaikhan (Tuva) and joining the cast as Joanna Telfer-Fotheringham is Jennifer Saunders.

Smothered (w/t) (6x30), Sky Comedy and NOW, 2023:

Will they? Won’t they? Should they? Shouldn’t they? Co-Created by Monica Heisey (Workin’ Moms, Schitt’s Creek), and produced by the multi award-winning Roughcut TV, Smothered, is a not so typical rom-com. Starring Danielle Vitalis and Jon Pointing in a tale of two worlds colliding, where romance blossoms but the pressures of modern dating linger.

Sammy (Vitalis) is a fiercely independent young woman who is done with dating apps, sick of immature men, and here for a good time. Tom (Pointing) has never been inclined to swipe left or right; he’s a settled man with a warm heart but carries his fair share of baggage. On a night out, the two strangers meet, and end up singing out their drunken souls in a karaoke booth. Then the inevitable happens. (They hook up). 

What seems like a great idea at the time, the strangers agree to have a no strings attached affair for three weeks – but on the condition that they never speak again. Sounds simple, right?  However, what was supposed to be a few weeks of great sex, pasta in bed and first names only, the sparks flying around them cannot be ignored. But Sammy soon makes a shocking discovery that there is another woman in Tom’s life... his six-year-old daughter Ellie.

Also featuring, Aisling Bea (This Way Up), Mercury Prize nominee Rebecca Lucy Taylor, also known as Self Esteem, Blair Underwood (Sex and the City, LA Law), Rizzlekick’s Jordan Stephens and Lisa Hammond (Eastenders).

Mr Bigstuff (6x30), Sky Comedy and NOW, 2023:

Mr Bigstuff is a six-part comedy, co-produced by Sky Studios and Water & Power Productions. The series explores broken families, fragile masculinity and carpet sales. It tells the story of two estranged brothers; Glen (Sampson) a nervy perfectionist striving to live the suburban ideal and Lee (Dyer) an alpha male with a prescription drug addiction and a biscuit tin full of his Dad’s ashes.

Glen and his fiancée share a perfect, perfectly mundane life together. Sure, Glen’s got crippling erectile dysfunction and Kirsty has a secret shoplifting habit, but they’re happy. That is until Lee comes crashing into their lives, whilst on the run from a past that’s quickly catching up with him. The trio are forced together: a perfectionist, a fantasist and an anarchist all living under the same roof in an Essex cul-de-sac. It’s not long before their ‘perfect’ lives start to unravel faster than a cheap carpet.

Executive Producers are Anil Gupta and Jon Mountague for Sky Studios, Tom Miller and Sam Myer for Water & Power Productions, with Hayley Sterling from Sky Studios producing.

Dreamland (6x30), Sky Atlantic and NOW, 2023:

Based on Sky’s 2018 BAFTA-winning short of the same name, which was written by Sharon Horgan and produced by Merman, Dreamland is a comedy-drama about secrets, lies, loves and aspirations within a family of four sisters. Set in the sun-drenched British seaside town of Margate, it is a dark comedic exploration of multi-generational female relationships, and their (somewhat dysfunctional) family dynamics.

Eldest sister Trish (Agyeman) is pregnant for the third time with her partner Spence (Kiell Smith- Bynoe). And this time, she’s decided: it’s going to be a girl. Her two sisters Clare (Gabby Best) and Leila (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) rally around her with their mum (Frances Barber) and their Margate- legend nan (Sheila Reid), “manifesting” a little girl at Trish’s ‘mani-festival’. But when their other sister, Mel (Allen), makes an unexpected reappearance back into their lives, her return threatens to destabilise the entire family. A knock on their door and their ‘Dreamland’ is no more...

The series also features a guest star appearance from Samantha Bond as Orla.

Brassic S5 (8x60), Sky Max and NOW, 2023:

Reeling from the dramatic events of the series 4 finale, Vinnie and the gang face big repercussions from their entanglements with the dangerous McDonagh brothers and powerful drug buyer Manolito. With both criminal big-wigs now on his case, Vinnie needs to negotiate his exit strategy – and fast. But there’s a lot on his mind, especially as he’s still trying to figure out what the hell is going on between him and Erin. Can they ever actually be together, and does she really want to share this unhinged and dangerous life with him?

Joy To The World (w/t) (1x90), Sky Max and NOW, Christmas 2023:

Twelve-year-old Mikey Collins, who’s dirt-poor and hates Christmas, finds two Santa Clauses in the woods. One has just robbed a bank (James Nesbitt) and is on the run with the cash, the other Santa (Timothy Spall) claims to have fallen out of his sleigh. Mikey has no time for this second guy – he’s well past believing any of the Jingle Bells, spirit-of-the-season rubbish, even if his little brother Sean insists on treating the old man like a superstar. Instead, Mikey’s determined to get his hands on the bank-robber’s cash, convinced that this is the answer to giving his family the Christmas they all crave. But as Mikey risks everything for the loot, he comes to realise that maybe the spirit of Christmas is alive after all… The festive special is from SHUK and Calico Pictures for Sky.