What if Motherland was about working-class women in Hull and starred Sinéad Matthews instead of Anna Maxwell Martin? Hullraisers is the glorious result
“You and I both know where that gusset’s going”
I should probably have resisted that initial comparison as Hullraisers and Motherland are two different beasts but there is a larger point to be made that the former is a rare example of British television venturing over to Kingston-upon-Hull. The show is actually an adaptation of an Israeli show Little Mom (although I don’t know where the Hull of Israel is…) and is adapted here by Lucy Beaumont.
And it is absolutely hilarious, it absolutely struck my funny bone dead-on. At the heart of the show are sisters Toni and Paula and their best pal Rana and we follow their shenanigans as they negotiate the time-honoured traditions of life and love. But there’s a salty edge to the humour, rooted in a deep affection for the characters from Beaumont and a suite of brilliant performances from Leah Brotherhead, Sinéad Matthews and Taj Atwal.
Toni and Paula are both parents, so they’re variously negotiating traumatising flamingos, fierce mothers-in-laws, horny teenagers and flagging sex lives. Whilst devoutedly single Rana is focused on working her way through the perils of finding and keeping a good shag. It may not be particularly genre-shaking stuff but most importantly, it is constantly and consistently laugh-out-loud, and frequently filthily so.
Matthews in particular relishes Beaumont’s wicked way with a phrase, and Atwal’s sex-positive character is refreshingly frank. Brotherhead’s Toni is located more as the harried heart of Hullraisers, often deep in the midst of three crises but she carries it so well, a deftness of touch ensuring we’re never anywhere near maudlin. Shoba Gulati is excellent in support too, but I refuse to believe she could be a grandmother in anything 😂