TV Review: Motherland Christmas special

Motherland continues to excel with this sharp-edged and scabrously funny Christmas special

“What absolute shite are you gonna panic-buy me this year?”

Whether the choice to ignore the pandemic was circumstantial or deliberate, it lends a certain piquancy to many of the scenes of festive revelry in Motherland. For as disastrous as they inevitably turn out to be, social distancing restrictions mean that we could only dream of being that close to that many people with an egg nog in hand. 

This Christmas special wisely doesn’t tinker with much as writers Sharon Horgan, Helen Serafinowicz, Holly Walsh and Barunka O’Shaughnessy cleave closely to their successful formula. Anna Maxwell Martin’s perma-harrassed Julia ricochets from domestic chaos to partying mayhem with her best pals Liz and Kevin in hand.

Along with her iconic Carmichael from Line of Duty, this is the role of Maxwell Martin’s lifetime, so drily funny with her effortless line readings. Diane Morgan and Paul Ready as Liz and hapless Kev are brilliant foils for her and Tanya Moodie’s Meg continues to be a strong addition to the core ensemble, although pushed a little too broad here.

Throw in Lucy Punch’s delightfully groteque Amanda, Phillipa Dunne’s Anne with all her hidden depths and Oliver Chris carrying on his cameos from afar with a hilarious harassed present-buying bit and it’s a delightful Christmas treat. Now bring on Series 3.

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