RadioTimes.com caught up with Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney ahead of the return of their hit Channel 4 comedy Catastrophe in which they play a couple who stick together after a brief fling delivered a baby.
They spoke candidly about the show, their relationship, and what their real-life partners make of their rapport with one another.
Oh, and Sharon lets us know what it’s really like working with Sarah Jessica Parker…
RadioTimes.com: In tonight’s episode we quickly discover that your characters now have two children. At the end of the first series, Sharon was about to give birth to her first. Why did you leap ahead in time?
Sharon Horgan: We didn’t fancy the second series being about a newborn. We wanted to be further into the relationship so it was a completely different stage of their lives. There is no way you can confuse where they are with lust; they have a completely new set of problems a few years in.
RT.com: But they are interesting people, did you not think that we might like to watch Sharon and Rob tackle the problem of dealing with the immediate aftermath of a birth?
Rob Delaney: Totally valid point. I guess we sort of felt there are so many shows that have covered that ground. We wanted to get to what we first conceived of for the show – which was people really in the middle of it.
SH: Really s**t things happen to us but we are convinced they can get through it. We didn’t want to do more of the same. We know how they are, how they talk to each other, we wanted to see them take on something else…
RT.com: In the show, Rob‘s character especially can be very scathing and verbally dexterous but also tender. Do you have a pay off system where you balance the two things up?
SH: I don’t think we ever plot it in terms of pay-off or thinking ‘can we get away with being a bit more of an arsehole here’. We were careful to look at the series as a whole to make sure we weren’t being too arsehole-y to each other because we didn’t want it to be grating. A relationship a few years in with a few kids is different so we made sure we tempered it.
RD: We do think at times this might make this sweet part feel nicer if this part is harsher. So we’re sort of aware of the character calculus…
RT.com: Did the fantastic response to series one affect how you did series two?
SH: We knew what we wanted to write about but I would be lying if I say it didn’t impact on us.
RD: The British public were more at peace with the huge fight at the end of series two. British people were ‘they are trying to damp down the stress’ and it exploded. They got that. Americans were more ‘I am trying to amuse myself after my s****y day’ so when American people got upset I was defiant. I was thinking, ‘perhaps you have never been in a relationship where stress took place?’ My response to people who had that reaction was ‘you’re wrong’.
RT.com: So Sharon and Rob are going to go through the ringer in series two?
RD: My wife was pleased that on-screen Rob was more put upon this series and has more edges. Series two Rob will unleash it more.
RT.com: You just mentioned your wife, Rob. You and Sharon are both married with children of your own. Are your real spouses jealous? Do they feel left out when you make the show and have a laugh together?
RD: I don’t think so because they are so present in it. I feel a mega kinship with Sharon’s husband [Jeremy Rainbird, an ad executive] because the show wouldn’t be what it is if he wasn’t who he was – this cool guy with this amazing life. My wife doesn’t mind that we are on air kissing. She is like, ‘I am annoyed that they wrote it for each other and are there on television. Why didn’t they have an affair in the conventional manner?’ [Laughs] Jeremy is always nice but under a veneer of deep black hate that Sharon and I thrive on. I see it like this. I wanted to make a sitcom about a man and a woman. I am a man, I needed a woman to do it. Why not do it with the best woman there is to do it. It’s her. It’s Sharon.
RT.com: Will there be a series three? What will happen if there is?
RD: We would like to make one. We hope so. I would be sad if it didn’t come back. And I don’t like being sad.
SH: There will be a lot of heavy stuff that has to get resolved by the end of series two.
RD: American audiences who didn’t like the end of series one, well they will be hanging themselves at the end of series two. It’s real deal stuff that happens in marriages.
RT.com: Are you a Londoner now, Rob? You left the US to make this show and now you seem to have put your roots down?
RD: I have. My wife just had our third baby – we loved the NHS and the schools are good. There was a mass shooting next door to my son’s day care when he was there. Six people were shot dead so that makes it a tough sell to move back to the United States.
RT.com: Is that why you stayed here? Gun control?
SH: It was just his career, it wasn’t the shooting at his son’s day care….[Laughs]
RD: I don’t get out if things are bad. I tend to stick around. But things like that may make me not want to move back there…
RT.com: Can you tell us more about the Sarah Jessica Parker comedy Divorce you have just written, Sharon? It’s her first major TV project since Sex and the City…and she plays a women whose marriage breaks up, right?
RD: It’s amazing, I have seen the pilot.
SH: HBO set us up on a blind date but I knew what she was going to look like. She’s lovely. She’s surprisingly normal for someone who has, I guess, at one point been one of the most recognisable people in the world. And she has found the right thing and it was an amazing challenge to think of what I would want to watch her in next and she’s game. It’s as dark as any other stuff I have done…
RD: I watched her at work, she was pro pro, pro pro, take after take. Very impressive.
SH: I had a writing team, and they were amazing. But I couldn’t have that with Catastrophe. This is so personal, the chemistry between us on the page, working on it and on screen.
RT.com: You tweet a lot, Rob. I love your tweets, as do your more than a million followers. Is it still your calling card?
SH: I knew I wanted to work with him so much when I read his Twitter feed. I laughed every single time I read him. It’s magic.
RD: I spent a few years trying to get hired as a late-night joke writer so I have mountains of short jokes. So now it’s a little bit second nature. Not that they are all necessarily funny but I am thinking in set up, punch line….
RT.com: Are you a Twitter brand now? Do you like it when people call you a Twitter comedian?
RD: No, I don’t is the short answer but what am I going to do about it. Is comedy paying for the diapers my kids wear? Well you can call me what you like if it does, call me S**t D**k von Frankenballs. I don’t care.
RT.com: How long would you like to make the series if you had the power to decide?
RD: Let me immediately obfuscate. I am going to avoid the question completely and say that in editing series two I have ascertained that what makes the show good, if it’s good, is not the things that happen but how Sharon and Rob deal with them and how they relate to one another. So that speaks to a longevity. It doesn’t have to be. The answer is: I am not answering it, I don’t know. But longevity is a possibility…
SH: I would love to do three series because I have never hit the three series sweet spot before…
Catastrophe series two begins on Channel 4 at 10pm on Tuesday October 27