TV Review: Motherland (Series 1)

Anna Maxwell Martin shines in funny new sitcom Motherland

“It’s better now I’ve got this nanny…”

Between Father Ted and The IT Crowd (I’ve never seen Black Books), Graham Linehan has quite the sitcom-that-I-love pedigree so I’ve been keen to see what his latest Motherland would bring, after an entertaining pilot aired last year.

Written with Sharon Horgan, Helen Linehan and Holly Walsh, the show follows Anna Maxwell Martin’s perma-harassed Julia as she struggles to deal with her mother declining to help out with childcare and the school run. As she’s caught between the hyper-efficiency of the Alpha mums and the schlubby friendliness available at the opposite end of the scale, it’s a highly entertaining take on working parenthood.

Lucy Punch’s brittle Amanda is good fun as the leader of the ‘mean mums’ but the real joys come from the slowly developing bond between Julia and the bluntly chaotic Liz and the hangdog desperation of Kevin, both brilliantly portrayed by Diane Morgan and Paul Ready respectively. Combined with the ever-excellent Maxwell Martin, it’s a friendship group you can’t help but root for as they battle the everyday crises of birthday parties, carpools and opinionated nannies.

Phillipa Dunne’s put-upon Anne is a constant delight and naturally I loved Kirsty Bushell getting to rock a glamourous jumpsuit as a vivid presence in episode 2. It’s a bit of a shame Oliver Chris’ Paul, Julia’s husband, is seen so infrequently but then, that’s the whole point, his prolonged absences forcing the dilemmas that form the backbone of the show. Recommended.

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