A NEW BBC sitcom directed by Only Fools and Horses star Sir David Jason could be filmed around Huddersfield.
The Examiner revealed that the acting legend and star of current ITV comedy The Royal Bodyguard had been spotted at Crumbles Cafe in Marsden.
Now we can reveal that the Touch of Frost actor, 71, has given his backing to a script by Netherton writer Ben Sweet.
Together they have begun working on a pilot for BBC North called Pearly Gates.
The sitcom is based around a family’s failing funeral business and will feature Fast Show and Harry Potter star Mark Williams in the lead role.
Williams was spotted at The Sportsman in Fitzwilliam Street last night – and enjoyed two pints of Pure Holmfirth cider.
Filming is set to begin in the region in early February and if commissioned could hit the screens later this year.
Work on interior scenes is already under way at the Northern Light Film Studios in Armitage Bridge.
It is not the first TV comedy to look at undertakers – Thora Hird starred in a 1970s sitcom called In Loving Memory.
Ben, who worked with Sir David on 2010 short film All The Way Up, said he hoped to follow in the footsteps of Last of the Summer Wine and put the region back on screens in all its glory.
He said: “It’s very exciting for this area that we can bring this level of talent to our patch.
“To pull in a great team like this and have BBC backing is an amazing achievement.
“The subject of death and the funeral business is something that’s changed quite a lot over the years – it’s not all sadness, sorrow and grieving anymore.
“There can be quite a lot of humour as we celebrate someone’s passing.
“I thought of the idea of bringing a classic bit of British humour out of that scenario and creating a dysfunctional family of funeral directors who get up to a load of mischief as they go along.
“Watching everybody pull the script off the page, with sets being built and so on, it’s really exciting to see it all come together.
“We’ve all got our fingers crossed that the powers that be at the BBC will give us a series.”
The pilot episode is being directed by Sir David with help from former Only Fools and Horses producer Gareth Gwenlan.
Mr Gwenlan, who was head of BBC Comedy during the 1980s, said he had been brought on board by Sir David, who had great faith in Ben Sweet.
He said: “Ben gave the script to David, who as a professional is always happy to help out new people.
“That’s one of the reasons it was commissioned for a pilot and David said he would like to direct it.
“I’ve worked with David on and off over the last 30 years and he asked me to come on board, as although he has directed the odd drama he’s never done comedy.
“We’ve worked on the script over the last two months and it’s ready to go. We are about to start shooting a week on Monday.
“We’re still looking for locations and we’re doing quite a lot of interior scenes here at the Northern Light Film Studios.”
And Mr Gwenlan said he was confident the show would get the thumbs up from BBC bosses.
He added: “I’ve confidence in the script, I think Ben has come with a good old fashioned sitcom, which I have a feeling the audience might like.”