Channel 4’s comedy department must have been pleased when Catastrophe came across its desk.
Co-written by Sharon Horgan (co-writer of the superb Pulling, mystifyingly cut down by BBC3 in its prime in 2009) a quick glance at the script would have demonstrated that she has lost none of her skill and verve and love of filth when she wrote that show with Dennis Kelly about three women looking for love in Penge.
In fact, judging by episode one of Catastrophe which was screened exclusively at the recent Edinburgh TV Festival, C4 might just have their hands on the comedy hit of next year.
In the pilot episode (which will be episode one of a full series which will be shown early next year), Horgan plays a young Irish woman who meets a handsome American stranger (co-writer Rob Delaney) in a bar and embarks on a wild affair that they both know will end when he heads back to the US, which of course he does. Only problem is, she then falls pregnant, a mishap which forces him to return to Britain and sort things out.
It’s a premise which isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. She wants him around because she needs the support; and, because he didn’t have a father figure when he was a child, is adamant that his own kid will have a Dad around. So they start a relationship.
One thing you have to stay about this show is that it is very rude. But in a good way. The sex scenes are hilarious, some of the language deliciously filthy (this is Channel 4, let’s remember) and the chemistry between Delaney and Horgan is electrifying. Matters are helped by some stylishly naturalistic directing from Ben Taylor (Cardinal Burns and Cuckoo).
Despite the title, it is actually also a rather upbeat comedy which has you rooting for this odd couple all the way through, whether it is meeting her ghastly friends or coping with the medical scares that accompany her pregnancy.
Because (despite Horgan’s self-deprecating claim at Edinburgh that she is writing for the “very specific demographic” of “unhappy middle aged women”) Catastrophe also feels very grown up.
It taps into the joys and miseries of a plausible-seeming relationship here there is something at stake – their happiness but also of the child that is on the way. (Horgan joked at the Edinburgh screening that Lena Dunham’s HBO hit Girls is involving up to a point but that because the protagonists don’t have children, it wouldn’t matter if they were all hit by a bus. She was joking, but she has a point, much as we all love Girls).
Anyway, it’s all really rather promising and if Horgan and Delaney can maintain this quality for the full series (they are due to start filming the rest of the episodes next month) then I can see it winning a hatful of awards.