Sharon Horgan: women are creating the best TV comedy out there

Television’s funniest woman reckons she’s in good company

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These are golden days for Sharon Horgan. The actor/writer is just back from the Emmy Awards — she was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Catastrophe and is now wrestling with series three.

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“When you called I was in bed writing it,” she says. Ahead of filming beginning in London in early November, she and co-star/co-creator Rob Delaney are “right in the trenches. It’s terrifying!” she laughs with just a hint of against-the-clock stress.

The 46-year-old admits there was a similar pressure when it came to writing the pilot of Divorce for Sarah Jessica Parker. “I knew she was comedically brilliant, but I also knew that dramatically she could do anything, so I did think about her initially. But when I started writing the script, 
I stopped because otherwise I’d have 
lost my bottle!” she chuckles. “So I wrote
 what I wanted and
 hoped when she read it she wouldn’t throw it back at me. But she was happy.”

The recent pilot of the painfully hilarious Motherland was also hugely well received. There’s no word yet whether the BBC comedy about struggling mothers will be commissioned to series, “but I think we’ll know fairly soon,” Horgan says with an optimistic lilt. (Since this magazine article was written a full series has been ordered by the BBC.)

She’s loath to be drawn into a discussion about why middle-class comedies are currently so popular, stating that writing “anything middle-classy” is never her goal. “But I guess in Catastrophe, Sharon and Rob are middle class,” she concedes of their same-named fictional characters, “certainly compared to where she came from. That’s why it’s alien to her — like it is to myself. My life has changed a bit over the years and you write what you see.”

We’ve also come a long way from the fizzy Sex and the City, via the no-holds-barred Girls, to a TV landscape that features more varied, portrayals of women. Does she think the situation has improved?

“Most of the TV I’m watching is either created by, starring, or directed by women. At all the Emmy parties I went to, the people I was honing in on to tell I appreciated their work were ladies: Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Tina Fey (Veep), Jill Soloway (Transparent)…” she notes with an audible smile of satisfaction. “They were everywhere. So certainly in the comedy world, it’s looking pretty sweet.”

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Divorce begins tonight, Tuesday 11th October, at 10:10pm on Sky Atlantic