Breeders takes an honest and unflinching look at the Herculean difficulty of raising a child. As Sky describes it in a statement, the series “will expose the paradox of parenting that it is possible, in the same moment, to love your child to the horizon of the universe, while being apoplectically angry enough to want to send them there.”
Explaining why the show is a different from similarly-themed sitcoms like Outnumbered, Blackwell said: “Those were for families to watch, and ours isn’t really. It’s shining a harsher light on this kind of stuff than we’ve seen certainly in comedy before.”
According to the Veep and Thick of It writer, Breeders will explore how being a new parents means “you can be the happiest you’ve ever been and also the most strung out you’ve ever been, within a matter of minutes. That’s what we’re trying to show – that it can turn on a sixpence.”
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The series actually originated with its star Freeman, being inspired by a dream he had. “This is a very personal thing for Martin because the germ of the idea is his and it’s a subject that he wanted to explore,” explained Chris Addison, who developed Breeders with Freeman and Blackwell.
There will be 10 episodes of the series in total, with Simon Blackwell – who previously penned Channel 4’s Mitchell and Webb sitcom Back– acting as showrunner.
Parts of the the show are semi-autobiographical, Blackwell admits, with the on-screen parents of Freeman’s character Paul being based on his own mother and father.
The Breeders writers’ room, though, was 50/50 male and female, something which Addison hopes means the show delivers “a completely balanced idea of the experience of parenting as a whole.”
And if it’s a hit, the writing team know how they’d continue the story in a second season and beyond.
“If we were fortunate enough to get a second season, we know where we’re gonna go,” Blackwell said, with Addison confirming that future series are “all mapped out”.
Who is in the cast of Breeders?
The series stars Martin Freeman (A Confession) as Paul, a father who finds that the struggles of parenthood have turned him into a man he never knew he was.
He said in a statement: “I’m excited to be making Breeders with a team that can make me laugh while we look at some of the less-discussed truths and challenges of being a parent. I really love this project and am delighted to be working with FX and Sky.”
Daisy Haggard (of Back to Life fame) stars as Ally, partner of Paul and mother of their two kids Luke and Ava. She “runs a recording studio, makes Paul laugh and has the ability to read a story to their children while she’s technically asleep.”
Further cast includes Patrick Baladi (as Ally’s inappropriate colleague Darren), Michael McKean (as Ally’s free-spirited father Michael), Joanna Bacon and Alun Armstrong (as Paul’s parents Jackie and Jim).
George Wakeman plays Paul and Ally’s son Luke, with Jayda Eyles cast as their daughter Ava.
“It’s very strict dealing with kids – the amount of time they can be at work for the day and the amount of time they can be on set at any given time, that’s a whole nightmare, especially Jayda being so much younger, she had precious little time,” explained Addison, revealing that a double would sometimes be used in Eyles’s place.
Filming scenes featuring bad language also provided a challenge, with Freeman and Haggard filming first a ‘clean’ take opposite their young co-stars and then an unfiltered version without them.
“You have an alternate script with substitute words,” Haggard explained. “And then they would go upstairs with some headphones on when we were really letting loose!”
Where was Breeders filmed?
The exterior of Paul and Ally’s home was filmed in Clapham, while the interior was a set erected inside a now-disused factory in Southall – the multi-storey interior of the family home was built as a single structure, which meant that it was tough to find a studio tall enough to accommodate it.