Brenda Blethyn will star in a new sitcom about a working-class cafe owner who strikes up a friendship with an asylum-seeking African doctor.
The Vera actress will star opposite theatre and film actor Jimmy Akingbola in the ITV series, called Kate and Kolo.
The six-part comedy is penned by Drop The Dead Donkey and Outnumbered creators Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton, who will also supervise a trainer writer under the Comedy 50:50 scheme, an initiative that aims to address the gender imbalance in comedy.
The series centres around Blethyn’s character Kate, who runs an old-fashioned cafe in a neglected seaside town and who develops a strong, if sometimes volatile, friendship with Akingbola’s character Kolo.
It will be filmed in front of a live studio audience and will air next year.
Blethyn is known for her role in ITV crime drama series Vera, as well as the films Secrets & Lies, Little Voice, Pride And Prejudice and Saving Grace.
Akingbola has had a wide-ranging theatre career with roles in plays such as Blue/Orange, directed by Kathy Burke, and The Cut opposite Sir Ian McKellen at the Donmar Warehouse.
On the screen, he has appeared in TV series Arrow, Living The Dream, Rev and Holby Blue.
The series is being produced by Hat Trick Productions, and the company’s managing director Jimmy Mulville said: “ITV is the perfect home for Kate And Kolo, written by two of the country’s top writers and with two great actors like Brenda and Jimmy, it’s a wonderfully funny and sometimes touching comedy about real people coping with life at the sharp end.”
Saskia Schuster, ITV’s comedy controller, added: “Brenda and Jimmy head up a fantastic cast and we have six brilliantly written scripts.”