His characters included a wanted murderer and his plots concerned the kind of shenanigans seldom mentioned in the holiday brochures, so the prospect of doing for Scarborough what he had previously done for Benidorm brought Derren Litten mixed reviews yesterday.
The Hull-born writer who created one of ITV’s most popular, unashamedly lowbrow, comedies of recent years, has looked closer to home following its cancellation after 11 years.
He has also switched channels, and yesterday, the BBC announced that filming had begun on Scarborough, his new comedy for its flagship channel, set and filmed on the Yorkshire coast. It will the star comedian Jason Manford, alongside former Coronation Street regulars Catherine Tyldesley and Stephanie Cole.
The corporation said the show would “follow the lives of a motley band of Scarborough residents who are bonded by family, friendship and their love of karaoke.”
It says the action takes place in a local salon called Geraldine’s, and a karaoke pub called the Good Ship, promising: “There’s never a dull day in town.”
Mr Litten, who says that “thankfully things have improved greatly” since his birth in Hull 48 years ago, said his new series was different to his last.
“Even though I’ve stuck close to themes I clearly love – the seaside, pubs and karaoke – Scarborough is unlike anything I’ve written before,” he said, describing the plot as “laughter, love and intrigue all set against the backdrop of this beautiful North Yorkshire fishing town”.
In the town itself, whose official tourism brochure does not mention its karaoke bars, news of the series came as no surprise to many. The council has been discussing filming locations with the producers and had granted consent for them to use Peasholm Park and other public spaces.
“Any filming is good news for Scarborough,” said Janet Deacon, its tourism manager.
“They’ve told us it’s a comedy, but that it’s certainly not looking to put Scarborough in a bad light in any way. So we hope, and we’re assured by them, that’s it’s going to make the town look great.”
Ms Deacon said she had seen Benidorm, Mr Litten’s magnum opus, a couple of times.
“Benidorm’s Benidorm, isn’t it?” she said. “But because we knew it was the same writer, we wanted to make sure that it was going to project Scarborough in a nice light.”
Steve Siddons, leader of the Labour group on the council, said the presence of a film or TV crew in Scarborough was not a novelty, but that a comedy purporting to depict actual goings-on there might be “a worry”.
“I wouldn’t like it to be shown as something it’s not,” he said.
“Any publicity is good publicity up to a point. But it would be disappointing if it showed Scarborough in some kind of down market way, which I don’t think it is. It’s on the up.”