British comedian and “The Office” UK co-creator Stephen Merchant is HBO’s newest star. According to Deadline, the premium cable network has given an eight-episode series order to “Hello Ladies,” the comedy pilot he co-wrote, directed and stars in.
As in the recent HBO series “Life’s Too Short,” which Merchant co-created with his frequent collaborator Ricky Gervais, “Hello Ladies” finds the lanky funnyman playing a slightly more obnoxious and awkward fictionalized version of himself, searching for romance amonst the beautiful people of Los Angeles and usually just finding embarrassment — cringe comedy being one of his specialities.
The series, which Merchant wrote with former “Office” writer-producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, is based on themes Merchant explored in last year’s stand-up show of the same name. Christine Woods, Nate Torrence and Kevin Weisman co-starred in the pilot, which Eisenberg and Stupnitsky executive produced.
Merchant is no stranger to HBO — in addition to “Life’s Too Short,” he also co-created “Extras” with Gervais, and with him is a co-host of the animated “The Ricky Gervais Show.”
“Hello Ladies” isn’t the only comedy to which HBO has given a series committment lately — in August, Christopher Guest’s “Family Tree” got an eight-episode order from the network.