THE Crouches, the much-criticised TV sitcom set in London's Afro-Caribbean community and written by Ian Pattison, the Rab C Nesbitt writer, is drafting in a black writer to make it more


The show was attacked by leading black commentators on its debut last year, and was described by one as being ''about as funny as being carjacked''.

Now the BBC appears to have bowed to pressure and is to introduce Liselle Kayla, the Jamaican-born writer, in an attempt to make the show a success.

Darcus Howe, the black cultural critic, journalist and commentator, described the show as ''an attempt to denigrate the Caribbean community''. He called for the show, which he said was ''unadulterated garbage'', to be axed.

His words echoed those of Michael Eboda, editor of New Nation magazine, who compared it to a carjacking, and also suggested the BBC had turned the clock back 30 years to the time of Love Thy Neighbour, a famously insensitive sitcom about a white family with black neighbours.

Kayla, whose credits include EastEnders, Rude Girls, The Real McCoy, and the sitcom Us Girls, has now been added to the show to help Pattison, a Glaswegian, tailor the show for its intended audience.

She said: ''I believe we need more programmes which tell the stories of black communities in Britain today and can think of no better way to do that than through well-written comedy. And with the fantastic cast and their drive and commitment to the show, I believe The Crouches has enormous potential to be funny, clever and observant. I'll be doing everything I can to help make it the success I think it deserves to be.''

Kenton Allen, the BBC's editor of comedy, admitted that comedy shows were ''difficult to get right''.

He added: ''Faced with criticism, the easy option would be to say goodbye to the The Crouches, but some of the best comedies on British television wouldn't be here today if we hadn't stuck with them. We would rather listen to the concerns of the audience and build on the foundations.''

The Crouches stars Robbie Gee and Jo Martin as parents Roly and Natalie. Married for 18 years, they share the house with their two demanding teenagers and live-in parents.

Rudolph Walker, once the star of Love thy Neighbour but more recently better known as EastEnders' Patrick Trueman, stars as grandad Langley. Don Warrington, the Rising Damp star, and Danny John-Jules, of Red Dwarf fame, also appear.

Pattison has lived in south London and came up with the idea for the new series. He will continue to lead the writing team .

When the series was announced, Lorraine Heg-gessey, the BBC1 controller, defended the decision to commission Pattison.

''People who write dramas about prostitutes aren't necessarily prostitutes, and people who write about mass murderers don't necessarily go around killing people,'' she said. ''The show is funny and rings true.''