Perrier winner signs with Sky

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The Independent Online
SKY TELEVISION has paid pounds 3m to sign the Perrier Award winning comedian Al Murray.

Though Murray is largely unknown to television viewers, the pounds 3m fee shows Sky's determination to attract cutting- edge comedians.

Sky negotiated the deal with Avalon, Murray's agent, the company that sought pounds 20m from the BBC for a five-year Frank Skinner deal. Insiders say the BBC had also been talking to Murray for some months.

Murray, 30, has only made a few TV appearances with guest spots on Harry Hill's Channel 4 show. But winning last month's Perrier Award in Edinburgh has made him a desirable property.

Sky will now show a new 13-part sitcom called Time Gentlemen Please, co-written by and starring Murray, and based on his pub landlord character whose bar-room philosophising forms a key part of his stand-up act.

Avalon was also involved in another big money contract last week when a pounds 5.5m deal was signed with Sky for a David Baddiel sitcom.