Penned by Rosie Jones and Peter Fellows, Disability Benefits has been commissioned by Channel 4, and produced by Merman Television and 2LE Media. The show originally took the form of the acclaimed Channel 4 Comedy Blap of identical title.
Following a severe reduction in her state benefits subsequent to her redundancy, a young woman with very little left to risk embarks on establishing an illicit drug empire. However, Emily (Rosie Jones) transcends the archetype of an ordinary street-level drug dealer; she exudes wit, humour, and incisiveness, and possesses a high level of education. Moreover, she carries the additional facet of having cerebral palsy.
Throughout her life, Emily has consistently been underestimated. Whether encountering condescension for accomplishing the most mundane tasks or enduring deliberate disregard, her presence is often belittled. What better façade for engaging in criminal pursuits than being entirely dismissed by the same flawed system designed to uphold the law?
Rosie Jones says: “I am incredibly excited to be making Disability Benefits for Channel 4. It has always been my dream to have my own sitcom and now it is coming true! Bring it on!!”
Charlie Perkins, Head of Comedy for Channel 4 says: “Rosie is a National Treasure at Channel 4, with her distinctively funny and powerful work felt across all genres. So making her first sitcom alongside the huge talents of Peter, Merman and 2LE is the perfect next step for this special force of nature. Disability Benefits adds to an increasingly exciting slate of Channel 4 Comedy shows for next year and beyond.”
Clelia Mountford, Executive Producer and co-founder of Merman Television said: “We are delighted to be working with Rosie, Peter, 2LE and Channel 4, to bring Disability Benefits to a series, following the award-winning success of the original comedy Blap last year. Rosie has a truly unique voice and storytelling ability, alongside impeccable comedic timing, and we are proud to be working with her on her first scripted TV project.”
Tom Thostrup, Executive Producer and Managing Director of 2LE said: “Rosie exudes big criminal mastermind energy in real life so we’re very excited about working with her to bring that to the screen in Disability Benefits.”
Disability Benefits (6×30’) was commissioned for Channel 4 by Charlie Perkins, Head of Comedy and Laura Riseam, Comedy Commissioning Editor and co-produced by Merman Television and 2LE Media. Executive producers are Clelia Mountford and Sharon Horgan for Merman Television and Michael Livingstone and Tom Thostrup for 2LE. The series producer is Charlie Laurie from Merman.
The series commission follows the award-winning Comedy Blap of the same name, which was created by Rosie Jones, Peter Fellows and Tom Thostrup and which won ‘Best Newform Drama Series’ at the C21 International Drama Awards last year alongside Sophie King winning Best New Scripted Director at Edinburgh TV Festival’s New Voice Awards 2023.
Channel 4’s Comedy Blaps have historically been a development breeding ground for several series commissions, including We Are Lady Parts, which has been commissioned for a second series on Channel 4, Stath Lets Flats, Home and Dead Pixels (E4).
Transmission details for the series will follow in due course.