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Sky lines up Martin Freeman drama, Kumars reprise

BSkyB has commissioned a one-off autobiographical special from The Hobbit star Martin Freeman, as the UK satcaster claims it remains on track to hit its £600 million per year original British content pledge.

Fifteen-minute film Little Crackers will be written, directed and acted in by Freeman. Sky’s general entertainment net Sky1 will run the short, in which Freeman will play his own father.

Elsewhere, Sky is bringing back classic UK comedy family the Kumars, marking their return to British screens for the first time in seven years.

The Kumars will move on the story of the titular British Indian family, who previously appeared on the BBC with the Hat Trick Productions-produced The Kumars at No. 42. A new six-part comedy will launch this fall.

Other new shows for Sky1’s winter schedule include Moonfleet, a two-part drama based on J. Meade Falkner’s 1898 smugglers novel. Company Pictures is producing, with Sky Vision handling international sales.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday, Sky’s director, entertainment channels Stuart Murphy said the satcaster remained on course to invest £600 million (US$935 million) a year on British content by the end of 2014 and added there wa “100 per cent no truth” in suggestions cash used for increasingly expensive sports rights had shrunk that pot.

“We’re definitely on course to spend it. My job is to make sure the commissioning teams feel good and motivated and can get the best of the ideas [brought to us],” he said.

He also denied rumours to may be heading to Channel 4 to replace Jay Hunt as chief creative officer, saying: “Jay’s firmly in that job. I’m working hard to make sure we get the right people [at Sky] and I’m absolutely not in a rush to leave.”