Rose Matafeo on Starstruck season 3 and equality in the comedy industry
The comedian sat down with Radio Times Podcast to chat about the new season of hit series Starstruck and her love of TV.
This interview was originally published in Radio Times magazine.
Romcom fans have been patiently waiting for the new season of BBC's Starstruck to land on our screens - and this time around, the series is set to take a different turn as we follow protagonist Jessie (Rose Matafeo) as she navigates newfound single life after breaking up with movie star Tom (Nikesh Patel).
Ahead of the new series release, creator, star and comedian Rose Matafeo sat down with The Radio Times Podcast to chat about the show, as well as equality in the comedy industry and moving to the UK to pursue her dreams.
She also talks about why following the natural flow of telly is sometimes the best, and why the feelings in Starstruck season 3 don't necessarily mean it's an archetypal romcom.
What’s the view from your sofa?
I finally replaced my previous sofa. It was an unsuccessful purchase because it was too small. Emma Sidi, who plays Kate in Starstruck, had convinced me to buy a leather sofa – it fit her perfectly because she’s short. Now, I have a gorgeous Ikea sofa with a red and white pattern on it. Good bang for your buck. It faces an OLED TV that the colourist on Starstruck said was the best television. I have not regretted it.
What have you been enjoying recently on telly?
I’m hardcore into the natural flow of television. I enjoy being told what to watch. I enjoy a timetable. I want to be shown an episode of Escape to the Country followed by A Place in the Sun. I want to watch Heartbeat at whatever time ITV choose to show it. My favourite channel is Talking Pictures TV.
You grew up in New Zealand — was TV a big part of your childhood?
My nan would describe me as an indoor kid. I liked reading and watching TV, not going outside. From a young age I knew that if I wanted to do something, I’d have to do it myself. My parents were pretty hands-off. I started doing extracurricular activities because they were free. I always went for free classes because my mum would make me pay her back for every drama class that I didn’t go to!
Was it easy to get into the TV industry?
When I was 12, I was on a children’s TV show doing an advice column. Then I started working after school at a production company opening fan mail. As a teenager I wrote scripts for them, so I got my foot in the door aged 12! I didn’t ever have a back-up plan.
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You were a successful stand-up comedian in New Zealand in your early 20s — what drew you to London?
I’m an ambitious person. I came to the UK wanting to learn more and to be in a bigger pond. I moved here at 23 – and it was an incredible place to do stand-up. It was also an easier route visa-wise than America… and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe was a goal of mine – a kind of pilgrimage, in a way.
In 2018, your one-woman show Horndog landed you the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show. You were the first solo person of colour and the fifth solo woman to win. How has the comedy landscape changed since then?
Well, another woman hasn’t won it since… I remain the last woman. Hopefully not for long! Things in that world are getting better. There’s far more gender parity on line-ups, but they’re not diverse enough. Those things can always get better. That’s got to do with the industry as a whole – the people who book gigs, the commissioners giving out shows.
I benefit from so much of the pain and hard work that generations of women and non-white performers have done before me. I always joke and say, tongue in cheek, there will be true gender equality when I can bitch about another comedian who isn’t a man. There’s too few of us to stab each other. There has to be solidarity. But the moment it’s an even playing field, you’re on your own, sister!
Starstruck began as a comedy about falling in love. Does that make it a romcom?
In our culture, the function romcoms play in general is to act as allegories of love and romance. They convince us to fall in love and have some babies. That’s what the first series of Starstruck does. The second series is about the diminishing returns of that – it’s about realistic long-term love.
The third series is about the complicated history of love, when you’ve loved someone and you’re not with that person any more and you’re moving on with your life. Those feelings don’t fit neatly into the romcom genre. It’s a look at what love looks like as you get a bit older and past your 20s.
Starstruck season 3 will air on Monday 28th August on BBC Three and 10pm on Friday 1st September on BBC One. The full box set will be available on BBC iPlayer from Monday 28th August.
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