BBC boss on importance of queer sitcom Smoggie Queens: ‘We’re backing the creator’

BBC’s Director of Comedy Jon Petrie has talked about the importance of giving a platform to queer artists, such as Phil Dunning, the creator of upcoming queer comedy Smoggie Queens.

Smoggie Queens, written by and starring Phil Dunning, is described as an “out-and-out comedy focusing on a group of friends who are fiercely proud of the town of Middlesbrough, in the north east of England, and their small pocket of the LGBTQ+ community.”

It will follow drag queen Dickie, played by Dunning, drag mother Mam (Mark Benton), Lucinda (Alexandra Mardell), Sal (Patsy Lowe) and Stewart (Elijah Young) as they “navigate love, life and their pride” in an “underdog story on two fronts”.

Speaking at a BBC comedy showcase for the broadcaster’s upcoming slate of 2024 shows, including Motherland spin-off Amandaland, and Daddy Issues, which stars Sex Education‘s Aimee Lou Wood, Petrie explained the importance of platforming Dunning.

“We’re just backing the creator. We’re backing Phil and his vision,” he said. “We want to make sure that we let him tell his story, and there’s a duty of care there, and [we will] make sure that we protect him and it’s a safe landing. But it’s about backing the talent and trying not to f**k with their vision.”

Petrie also praised the “mad, properly funny” Smoggie Queens, and its script and creator.

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“[When the script came in], it was really funny, properly stupid, and we’ve not seen that on TV before, we’ve not seen that story.”

Smoggie Queens cast
Smoggie Queens introduces the sights, sounds and smells of Middlesbrough. (Mark Benton/X)

Following the show’s commissioning, Dunning said: “I’m absolutely buzzing that the BBC are taking Smoggie Queens to series and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to write such stupid and weird characters.

“It’s been a beautiful dream working with [production company] Hat Trick, and the incredible cast already feel like my new chosen family. I can’t wait to introduce the sights, sounds and smells of Middlesbrough to the world.”

Hat Trick producer Chris Jones added: “Phil has a brilliantly funny, energetic and well-observed style to his writing. It’s been extremely special to develop this fiercely proud chosen family sitcom with him along with exceptional support from BBC Comedy. We’re so excited to bring these characters to life.”

Smoggie Queens is currently in production.

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