BBC eyes leap to big screen for comedy series

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BBC hits including The Office might be headed for the big screen.

The UK pubcaster said Wednesday that it is looking into feature film projects based on such recent television hits as the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant series, which has been remade in the US for NBC.

Other BBC titles being considered for feature adaptation are sketch comedy show Little Britain, from Matt Lucas and David Walliams, and Extras, Gervais and Merchant's follow-up to The Office.

The move is part of a plan for in-house theatrical division BBC Films to collaborate with the pubcaster's comedy department in a bid to increase its slate of comedy projects.

Head of comedy talent Kenton Allen will join forces with BBC Films head David Thompson to work on mainstream comedy feature films.

Besides exploring the big-screen potential of existing brands, Allen and the comedy team will work with a wide variety of writers and writer-performers to develop new feature films.

"Many of the comedy talents we work with ultimately want to paint on a bigger canvas, and this relationship with BBC Films means that we can now offer them that opportunity," Allen said.

BBC Films has invested in several recent comedy projects including Debbie Isitt's Confetti and Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, and sees comedy as a growing genre.

"Comedy is very much a target area for us at the moment, with several interesting projects in development," Thompson said. "I am very excited about working with Kenton and the BBC Comedy team."

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