Loved Catastrophe? You’ll love Pulling too

Fans of Sharon Horgan's Channel 4 comedy should seek out her wince-inducingly brilliant BBC3 sitcom

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Catastrophe! There’s no more Catastrophe: Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s eye-wateringly filthy and funny comedy about an ill-matched couple expecting an unplanned baby comes to an end tonight. Monday evenings will be a sadder place for a while. 

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It’s not a complete disaster. As RadioTimes.com revealed last month, Channel 4 is planning to push out a second series in 2016. But until that happy day, I’d recommend that anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of Horgan’s equally hilarious BBC3 comedy Pulling invests in the box set.

Co-written with fellow Irish comic Dennis Kelly (who’s since penned Matilda the Musical with Tim Minchin), Pulling was about three single 30-something women: self-obsessed Donna (Horgan), dippy Louise and man-eater Karen.

Despite respectable ratings, giddy reviews, a Bafta nomination and a British Comedy Award for Horgan, it was pulled after just two series. At the time Horgan speculated that their “haggard old faces” had been deemed too old for the BBC3’s target demographic. 

This was before the trend for Twitter lobbying and online petitions, and before there were streaming services like Netflix and Amazon eager to buy up BBC cast-offs like Ripper Street. So peeved, protesting fans were only rewarded with an hour-long finale, which delighted them all over again by refusing to deliver a happy ending.

Still, 13 episodes is one more than Fawlty Towers managed – and I wager at least one will make you wet yourself a little.

Five years before Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls was hailed as ground-breaking, Pulling had already smashed the mould: it showed women behaving badly. They get wrecked, they sleep around and – shock horror – they enjoy it. 

In fact, Horgan and Kelly didn’t just smash the mould; they chucked it out the window. Donna, Louise and Karen weren’t other halves or incidental colleagues, they weren’t the warm-up acts or the foils; they were the disaster-prone losers. Naturally, they got all the best gags.

Watch a clip from the first episode when Donna decides marriage isn’t for her:

As in Catastrophe, Sharon Horgan mined her own life for inspiration. You wouldn’t want to live there but it makes for wince-inducing, laugh-until-you-fart television. Nor was there any moralising. Pulling makes Peep Show look positively sanctimonious.

So if you’ve enjoyed Sharon’s unplanned pregnancy, make a date with the reckless 30-something she probably once was. (And if you think she’s an irresponsible primary school teacher, wait until you meet foul-mouthed boozer Karen.) 

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Series one and two of Pulling are available on DVD, while the hour-long finale has been released as a digital download. Meet teacher/man-eater Karen below: