TV preview: W1A

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It is possible to accuse the BBC of many things, but a sense of humour failure is not one of them.

This week sees the return of the award-winning comedy W1A which mercilessly pokes fun and the idiosyncrasies of the organisation and the people who work in it.

The first episode of the mockumentary will feature a storyline revolving around Jeremy Clarkson. Written before the presenter was axed from Top Gear after a fracas with producer Oisin Tymon, the show was edited following the real-life events last month. Shane Allen, controller of comedy commissioning, added: “There’s an all-too-painful yet comedic delight in (writer) John (Morton) and his ability to pick away at the scab of modern corporate piffle and bureaucratic absurdity.

“We can’t wait to see what dysfunctional madness lies ahead for Ian Fletcher and colleagues in this sly fiction,” he added.

It’s one year on since the last series and head of values Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) has finally got his own office. He and the team have a new set of challenges to rise to, including the impending Royal visit of HRH The Prince of Wales. The question is, which of the management team will get to shake the royal hand?

Meanwhile, head of BBC brand Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) and her team at Perfect Curve have been tasked with giving a makeover to the BBC coverage of Wimbledon following rumours of a bid from a rival broadcaster. Her response is a brand mashup to end all brand mashups.

Over on the creative frontline, entertainment format producer David Wilkes (Rufus Jones) is trying to come up with the next big Factual Entertainment series after Britain’s Tastiest Village failed to fly. He’s got the title – Up Town, Down Town – he just hasn’t got a show, or a cast.

Finally, intern Will Humphries’ (Hugh Skinner) security pass won’t let him into the building: Is it a technical problem or something more significant?

Bonneville’s character Fletcher also gave his response to the cameras being allowed to film his everyday work again.

“I am very happy to have the cameras back. Being head of values is all about re-setting the dial for the BBC and perhaps about shining a new light on that dial, or at least shining the old light but with a new bulb, so none of us can be in any doubt where the dial is or can have any excuse for not being able to read what it says,” he said.

Fletcher was also at the centre of Twenty Twelve, a spoof documentary which looked at his role in organising the London 2012 Olympics.

The new series of W1A – named after the postcode of BBC Broadcasting House in London – will be shown in one hour-long instalment and three 30-minute episodes and will see a cameo performance from presenter and Cambridge University classics professor Mary Beard who will enjoy a small two-minute spot in one of the new episodes, presenting an award alongside Yentob

“Yes I did a little cameo piece,” Beard told RadioTimes.com recently. “Truth is that W1A counted as one of my favourite TV programmes. So when I got asked to do a couple of minutes I couldn’t resist – a bit like getting a walk on part in your favourite film. I don’t think I’ll ever make it in TV comedy, though.”

W1A, BBC1, Thursday, 9pm.

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