A new comedy about a Syrian refugee who enters Britain illegally, in the car boot of a family coming home from holiday, is heading for Channel 4.
Home, written by and starring W1A star Rufus Jones, tells the story of Sami as he tries to settle in the UK.
He ends up living with new couple Peter and Katy, and her son John, after they are surprised to find their unexpected visitor when they return from France.
Jones said the show had become a “passion project” for him.
‘State of the nation’
He added: “If you’re only going to invite one refugee into your house this year, make it this one. Actually, make it a real one, then this one.”
The comedy has been commissioned after a successful pilot last year. Channel 4 said the show is a “warm, touching and deftly surprising modern sitcom”.
Jones, who stars as entertainment format producer David Wilkes on W1A, told BBC News: “I first thought of the idea in the middle of the refugee crisis in 2015, when we were getting all these terrible images.
“But rather than being about Syria, it’s about what a Syrian man finds when he arrives here – and I wanted to do that from the point of view of a family. It’s almost like a state of the nation piece.”
‘These people are us’
He said in the intervening years, he did wonder if the subject would become less relevant – but that “if anything, the situation has got worse”.
“With the Syrian refugee crisis, you have to remember that these people are us,” he said, adding that they lived normal, lower-middle class lives before having to flee their homes.
Jones added that he likes confronting serious subjects through comedy, saying: “I think of comedy as another way of doing a tragedy. It’s two different ways of approaching the same subject.
“On paper, it feels like a sensitive area – but I’ve never felt more free to write something.”
Fiona McDermott, head of comedy at Channel 4, said: “Home got us with its heart and conviction to tell an important story about family, strangers, identity and the fragile ties that both bind us and pull us apart. It’s full of warmth, boldness and characters we hope viewers will really take to their hearts.”
Filming of the six-part series will start in August.
Channel 4 has also announced new series Year of the Rabbit, a Victorian-era detective comedy starring Matt Berry, Freddie Fox and Susan Wokoma. And there will be a second series of Roisin Conaty’s sitcom GameFace, the broadcaster announced.
Berry said he was “looking forward to stepping back in time to fight crime in the same significant year which bought us Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, The Elephant Man and of course Jack The Ripper”.
McDermott added: “Imagine The Sweeney in Victorian England and you’re getting close to the heady misguided machismo that runs rife in this series. ”