The credit crunch, the war in Afghanistan and a French & Saunders sketch about Chris Martin’s mum — all have influenced the new series of Jam and Jerusalem, starting this month.
In this series, Sal’s (Sue Johnston) daughter Tash decides she wants to live as an ‘urban forager’ — living off free food.
Writer Jennifer Saunders says, “Tash’s character was based on the fact that a lot of stuff was coming out in the papers as soon as the credit crunch hit, based around these stories of everyone getting into that whole hippy lifestyle, growing food in gardens and saving odd bits and pieces — so Tash was born from that.”
Meanwhile Caroline, played by Saunders, sees her son sent to fight in Afghanistan.
“One of the episodes is based on the fact that one of her sons is now in the Army and has been sent to Afghanistan. She is completely emotionally uninvolved, and while everyone else is crying she isn’t, explaining that it will be good for him and it will toughen him up.”
And the inspiration for Caroline? “The character was originally based on a sketch that Dawn [French] and I created in which I played Chris Martin’s mother.”
Jam and Jerusalem starts Sunday 9 August 8.00-9.00pm, BBC One (3 episodes; see all)
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Here's a look at how French and Saunders are invading this year's festive TV schedules:
Have a Happy Christmas and New Year.
French and/or Saunders can be seen popping up in a variety of places over the festive period.
After twelve years The Vicar of Dibley reaches the end of its service this Christmas. Dawn French leads the congregation in the final two episodes that bring the long-running series to a close on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
There’s a special pantomime taking place in Jam and Jerusalem. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are among the Clatterford dames treading the boards.
Dawn French can be seen again making a guest appearance in the second of two Little Britain Abroad specials. She joins Matt Lucas and David Walliams to play the mother of enfant terrible Vicky Pollard who is charged with drug-smuggling in Thailand.
Finally, Jools Holland’s famous Hootenanny takes place once again with his brigade of special guests, rumoured to include Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson.
Jennifer Saunders' new comedy, 'Jam and Jerusalem' starts on Friday 24 November.
The action focusses on Sal - self assured and determined to steer clear of the world of knitting and cake-baking inhabited by the local Women's Guild. But Sal decides to sample life at the Guild when her husband's death pushes her to seek a new direction in life.
Jam and Jerusalem, Fridays 9.30-10pm, BBC One.
The wraps are off Jennifer Saunders' next project, featuring comedy partners old and new. She has written a pilot for a series called Jam and Jerusalem, an affectionate comedy about a women's group called the Women's Guild.
The show is not about the similarly named Women's Institute, but WI members have chipped in to help the cast and crew. The show is set in and filmed on location in Devon, and WI members have helped by providing extras and baking cakes.
Filming on the 30-minute pilot is underway, and stars Sue Johnston (The Royle Family) and Dawn French. It also features Sally Phillips, Joanna Lumley, Maggie Steed and Jennifer Saunders herself.