A Russian version of hit British comedy 'The Office' is due to be made later this year after the BBC negotiated a rights package with one of the country's leading TV stations.

BBC Worldwide have sold the rights to Russia's Channel One broadcaster, who will commission 24 half-an-hour-long episodes of the comedy for screening next year.

The deal means Russia will be the latest country to have its own version of Ricky Gervais' popular character David Brent - the chirpy but cringeworthy office manager at Slough paper company Wernham Hogg.

The Office, which was co-written by Gervais and Stephen Merchant, has won several awards in the UK and abroad and has spawned several foreign language spinoffs, including the first in France in 2006.

Arguably the most successful version saw Hollywood comedian Steve Carell take on the role of Michael Scott - a boss in a similar vein to Gervais' Brent - in the US version, first broadcast in 2005.

The deal with Russian TV means scriptwriters can pen their own plots to episodes that do not necessarily have to follow the narratives of the English versions.

The show has now been sold to more than 70 countries worldwide and remains Gervais and Merchant's best-loved work, despite the pair enjoying similar critical acclaim for their follow-up comedy series Extras.

26/07/2008 12:32:15