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Thursday, 21 September 2017

E4 pass on more 'Gap Year'

E4 comedy Gap Year will not return for a second series.


Head writer Tom Basden has suggested interference and a lack of promotion from Channel 4 were factors in the cancellation of the comedy-drama, which starred Tim Key, Ade Oyefeso, Anders Hayward, Alice Lee and Brittney Wilson as backpackers touring Asia.

No, we're not doing more of that, no” he told Dan Clark's Screen Talk podcast. “I don't hate that decision. I was sad that the channel didn't push it harder.”

Writer-actor Basden, who co-created ITV2's hit Roman sitcom Plebs and is currently appearing in BBC Two's Victorian medical comedy Quacks, had been lined up to act in Gap Year. But he stepped back because “the writing of the show became a bit unruly and I had to basically write it during filming”.


Despite boasting a writing team that included Quacks' James Woods, Veep's Tony Roche and Charlie Covell, creator of the upcoming E4 and Netflix apocalyptic comedy-drama The End of The F***king World, when we came to make [Gap Year], we started shooting with maybe two and a bit scripts written [of eight episodes]” said Basden “It was just impossible to get ahead.

“If you're being noted all the time, there comes a point when you just have to give up on the idea that you're going to make progress on something you haven't yet written, all you're doing is just working on the stuff that's already on paper.”

He added: “The buck stopped with me a little bit. There had come a point with almost all of the episodes where it had become a bit of an emergency and I was required to step in a little bit or forced to step in a little bit. It was a tough thing all round.”

Giving an example of the noting process, Basden recalled changes that Channel 4 insisted upon for Janeane Garofalo's character Sam, to skew the story towards a more youthful audience. She “was meant to work for a guide book, like a Rough Guide-type thing” Basden explained. “And we got a note very early on from Channel 4 going 'guide books are a bit passé for our E4 audience, this has to be a website.'”

Pointing out that guide book sales have actually increased in recent years, Basden continued, “nevertheless, we got this note and that kind of steered loads … not only the dialogue around it, but story where you have to have people explaining that they are from a website. We actually ended up not doing it very much as a story because it doesn't really make a lot of sense.”

When Clark asked if he resisted the directive, he replied: “It became one of those notes, it was made clear to us that we can't really argue with it.”

The writer also criticised the show's renaming. “It was called Foreign Bodies all through production” he recalled, sardonically noting that “if you're looking for a title to deliver with absolute clarity that it's about people on a gap year, then Foreign Bodies is definitely not as good as Gap Year.”

A spokesperson for Channel 4 confirmed, “Tom Basden and Eleven created a hilarious and ambitious comedy drama of which we’re all very proud, however Gap Year won’t be returning for a second series.

 Gap Year was made by Eleven Films

Story from Jay Richardson

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