TV Review: Motherland Series 3

Series 3 of Motherland returns to give us more of the excellent parental shenanigans, led by the peerless Anna Maxwell Martin

“Another glass of dry white wine”

Despite losing Sharon Horgan from the writing team (she’s still onboard as a producer), the third series of Motherland remains in the safe hands of Holly Walsh, Helen Serafinowicz and Barunka O’Shaughnessy, who regale us with yet more tales of middle-class school gate shenanigans, led by brilliant performances from Anna Maxwell Martin, Diane Morgan, Paul Ready and Lucy Punch.

This time round, we deal with nits, school trips and catchment areas on the lighter side plus a touch of racism, cancer and divorce adding the requisite darker note that has been this series’ hallmark, making it more than just another featherlight comedy. The tightness of the core ensemble means that so much of it works so well but a real joy comes now with the well-judged reappearance of recurring characters.

So Jackie Clune’s monstrous receptionist is a hilarious gatekeeper on the school trip, Oliver Chris’ perma-absent husband Paul continues to leave Julia isolated and Phillipa Dunne’s brilliant Anne graduates to pretty much core team member now. We also get a great cameo from Joanna Lumley as Amanda’s cuttingly dry mother Felicity, making passive aggressiveness into an art-form over an excruciating Mother’s Day lunch.

Of the leads, Kevin’s journey through divorce and driving lessons gives him real focus, especially when he collides with Amanda. Paul Ready is close to a national treasure so its great to see him get much to do, especially against the razor-sharp Lucy Punch who continues to sketch an almightily tragic arch for Amanda. And Anna Maxwell Martin continues her white-hot streak with a note-perfect performance of a near-collapse Julia, teetering on the brink of so much, embodying comedy and tragedy with seemingly effortless ease. 

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