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BBC sign for Little Britain spinoff

Thursday, July 20, 2006

London (Reuters): Matt Lucas and David Walliams, stars of television comedy Little Britain, have signed a three-year deal with the BBC, the broadcaster said. Lucas and Walliams are planning a new show featuring some of their best-loved characters in a series due to hit screens next autumn, and there will also be two Little Britain Christmas specials. ''We have entered into a three-year exclusive deal with Matt Lucas and David Walliams,'' said BBC One controller Peter Fincham yesterday. ''It is something we are absolutely delighted about. They are comedy, they are funny, and they play to a younger audience, which we like.'' The BBC, which has recently come under fire for the high salaries it pays some of its top stars, did not disclose how much Lucas and Walliams will receive. Star presenter Jonathan Ross recently signed an 18 million pound three-year deal with the BBC, according to media reports.

Announcing its autumn schedule, the BBC also said that ''Panorama'' would return to a peak time slot on BBC One at 8:30 p.m. on Mondays from January 2007 from its current slot after 10 p.m. on Sundays. The flagship current affairs programme will be cut back to 30 minutes from the current 40, but four one-hour specials have been added. Panorama's biggest audience, 22.8 million, was for Martin Bashir's interview with Princess Diana in 1995. Other highlights of the autumn schedule include: 

A one-off ''Royle Family'' special reuniting Ricky Tomlinson, Caroline Aherne and the rest of the original cast.

An adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel ''Jane Eyre'' with Ruth Wilson in the title role and Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester.

An 8 million pound revival of ''Robin Hood'', with Jonas Armstrong as the legendary folk hero and Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

''The Amazing Mrs Pritchard'', starring Jane Horrocks as a local supermarket manager who stands for parliament.

''London'', a one-off film drama about life in the capital starring Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff and Robert Carlyle.

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