Comedies involving unruly kids have never done it for me. It’s not really fair, as there are plenty of other situations I have no personal experience of, but can laugh heartily at in TV land. However, there’s something about parents talking about parenting that just seems to sap all the joy out of life.
Thankfully, Motherland doesn’t dwell too much on this. In fact, the children are largely sidelined, allowing us to focus on enjoyably dysfunctional mums Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin) and Liz (Diane Morgan).
I’ll admit I found it tough to get along with Julia at first. She does seem to spend most of the episode behave so oddly that it’s hard to feel much sympathy for her childcare plight – although maybe this is the part I can’t identify with if I’m not a parent.
Whatever, any reservations soon pass once she meets some more parents to absorb her exasperation and the fun can begin.
Chief among these is Liz, whom Morgan infuses with the same deadpan dryness that Philomena Cunk fans have come to know and love. One particularly slapstick kitchen accident had me laughing so hard I had to reach for the pause button while I recovered.
The hapless pair are joined by well-meaning Kevin (Paul Ready) as they attempt to gain acceptance from a group of snide, know-all mums headed by ringleader Amanda (Lucy Punch), who one can only assume will be getting her comeuppance at some point.
Of course, that does rather hinge on whether the BBC commissions a full series. Well, Motherland has Graham Linehan and Sharon Horgan (on a writing team that also includes Helen Linehan and Holly Walsh) , and it was a funny first outing with a particularly strong second half.
What sort of commissioner wouldn’t want to let this breathe and become something very good indeed?
Well, I remember two years ago they didn’t commission The Walshes, another very funny show co-penned by Linehan (alongside Irish comedy troupe Diet of Worms). That was a shame. It’d be a surprise if a similar fate was found for Motherland.
Motherland is available on the BBC iPlayer.