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HBO Orders Armando Iannucci’s New Hugh Laurie Outer Space Tourism Comedy Avenue 5 to Series

Armando Iannucci, making the Nixon victory gesture, on a red carpet.
Armando Iannucci attending the premiere of the seventh season of Veep. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

HBO has ordered a full season of Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s next project, a science fiction comedy about space tourism called Avenue 5, Variety reports. New work from the man behind The Thick of It, In the Loop, Veep, and The Death of Stalin is always good news, but this project has seemed like a near-perfect confluence of talent and subject matter since HBO ordered the pilot last August. Iannucci’s verbally dazzling style of comedy often revolves around forcing characters who hate each other to be stuck in the same room, No Exit-style—meetings, plane flights, more meetings—and then letting them insult each other as elaborately and obscenely as possible. And “on a cruise ship surrounded by the deadly vacuum of outer space” is the most “stuck in the same room with people I loathe” that it’s theoretically possible for a character to achieve, so expect fireworks.

The cast also sounds exceptional: Hugh Laurie, who’s been killing it on Veep, will star as the captain of the space cruise ship Avenue 5. The Book of Mormon’s Josh Gad will play an egocentric billionaire who runs hotels and health clubs and the cruise ship Avenue 5; Suzy Nakamura from Dr. Ken will play his right hand woman. Gad’s other employees include Zach Woods from Silicon Valley as the ship’s head of customer service, Nikki Amuka-Bird as the head of mission control on Earth, and Lenora Crichlow as the ship’s second engineer. The Thick of It’s Rebecca Front will play one of the passengers. Best of all, judging from character description alone, is that Star Trek: Voyager  alum Ethan Phillips will play Spike Martin, a hard-drinking former astronaut who falsely claims to have been “the first Canadian to land on Mars.” Iannucci, who directed the pilot, will serve as executive producer, along with Simon Blackwell, Kevin Loader, Tony Roche, and Will Smith.

There’s no timetable for Avenue 5 yet. Iannucci is currently finishing up a feature, The Personal Life of David Copperfield, an adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel featuring Dev Patel as Copperfield and a cast that includes Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie, and Ben Wishaw. Next stop, outer space.