The creators of Him & Her are back – and their new BBC comedy Mum is painfully funny

BBC2's Mum is silly and surreal but born from the realities of grief, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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Mum is the latest comedy from writer Stefan Golaszewski and director Richard Laxton, the makers of grimy, unromantic comedy Him & Her. 

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It’s got Him & Her’s trademark surreal silliness, the same “hiccups of humour” that characterised the wonderful Steve and Becky. It’s observational comedy at its absolute best: subtle, slow paced and sofa-squirmingly painful. 

But it won’t fill the hole left by Him & Her. Not because it’s not as good, but because while Him & Her followed an apathetic couple in their 20s and their madcap friends, Mum is about a different stage of life. It’s an authentic depiction of grief and the strange, no-man’s-land of life after losing a loved one. 

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We meet Mum, Cathy (Lesley Manville), on the day of her husband’s funeral. Flowers are arriving from long-lost acquaintances and family are gathering to say a final farewell.

Amongst them is Kelly, Cathy’s grown-up son’s new girlfriend, who is always saying and doing the wrong thing, like asking for a selfie or borrowing a pair of Cathy’s knickers. 

Almost everyone will recognise that peculiar funeral day feeling. Countless, ‘I’m fine’s, endless cups of tea, lost prescription glasses, the politics of who travels in the funeral car. 

And you’ll recognise Mum. We’ve all known women like her. Unflappable, stoic and eternally patient, the person who calms, helps, stays steady and seems sometimes to exist purely to make those around them feel better. For me, she’s my grandma, who as I remember it, quietly, selflessly held us together when she became a widow. 

For that reason, Mum’s laughs are emotionally charged. It’s brilliantly funny, but with a grieving heart.

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Mum starts tonight at 10pm on BBC2