A new Sharon Horgan comedy, a British Hurt Locker “but with laughs”, and a season tackling unemployment are among the first commissions by new BBC3 controller Zai Bennett.

Life Story (w/t) is a sitcom, starring and co-written by Horgan (Pulling, Free Agents) and comedian Holly Walsh, about a woman who is wrongly imprisoned for murdering her boss. The 6 x 30-minute in-house series is set for an early 2012 TX. Jo Sargent will be executive producer.

Dark comedy runs throughout Bennett’s new commissions, which include two non-TX pilots.

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Eggbox is about life on a teenage cancer ward and is being made by Hat Trick. It is written by former cancer patient Tom Bidwell and Mark Catley, who has written for Holby City and Casualty.

IED is a single-camera comedy set among a bomb-disposal unit in Afghanistan. The in-house pilot is being penned by Miranda co-writers James Cary and Richard Hurst.

Bennett, who has also recommissioned White Van Man, said he wanted comedy that “goes to places others wouldn’t”, and that his orders were “funny, but sometimes moving, and with a lot of knob gags”.

Bennett has also acquired 8 x 30-minute comedy Wilfred, starring Lord Of The Rings’ Elijah Wood and made by FX Productions. Wood plays unsuccessful lawyer Ryan, who sees his neighbour’s dog as “a rude, somewhat surly” man in a cheap dog suit.

On a more serious note, he has commissioned Love Productions to make Up For Hire Live, a four-part doc stripped across a week, which tracks four unemployed youngsters progressing “from tea boy to making executive decisions”.

As part of the jobs season, each doc will be followed by a live studio debate about the issues that arise. The season, scheduled for autumn, will also seek to put viewers in touch with potential employers.

Meanwhile, 1 x 60-minute Britain, You’re Welcome To It (w/t) looks at the work of one of the many charities set up to help Eastern Europeans when they first step foot in the UK, following five immigrants from the moment they arrive.

Mixed Up In The Middle East, meanwhile, is a 1 x 60-minute doc that follows a young woman who is half-Arab, half-Jewish as she visits the countries her parents left behind.

“Factual and comedy is what sets BBC3 apart – no other channel commissions the volume of comedy or one-off docs in the way we do,” said Bennett. “We make it clear we are there to make people laugh and think, so factual and comedy are really important.”