Irish writer and actress Sharon Horgan’s location sitcom Catastrophe has been nominated for a 2016 EMMY Award for OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
. …and few people know but before her UK career took off Irish broadcaster RTE was her first port of call 13 years ago but her studio show was rejected. Read more below.
So for those who don’t know Sharon is the most successful Irish female comedy writer / actress today. The massively talented Horgan was actually born in London but moved to Bellewstown in Co. Meath at the age of 4 where here parents (half Irish / half Kiwi) took over a turkey farm. The Kiwi connection may explain why her brother Shane became such a great rugby player? But that’s another story. We are here to talk about Sharon.
After an Irish ‘unhappy’ education the aspiring actress moved back to London and attended various drama courses in her early 20s. The cliche is true – struggling to make ends meet she took a series of odd-jobs, including working in call centres and waitressing – the same old story for 1000s of struggling ‘ar-teests’. After nearly two years selling bongs in a head shop in Camden, Horgan started a degree in English and American Studies at Brunel University in west London, graduating in 2000 at the age of 30. Performing now took a back seat to writing.
A year later Sharon (with co-writer Dennis Kelly) won a BBC backed new comedy sketch writing competition and her career as a writer started rolling. Now on the radar of comedy TV producers it wasn’t long before her talent was spotted. With her backing The Sharon Horgan Show – a new Irish based studio series with comedy guests & sketches – was subsequently pitched to RTE but was probably seen as a step too soon for such a new talent.
After a bright and productive period of writing, collaborating and acting in various UK radio, stage and TV shows, Sharon’s potential was eventually realised as she was crowned Best Female Newcomer at the 2007 British Comedy Awards. A starring role in the self written BBC series ‘Pulling’ gave Horgan’s career a real kick-start and she earned her comedy acting and writing spurs on both sides of the Atlantic over the next few years (including an Xmas short for SKY based on her turkey plucking exploits at home).
But it was the 2014 Channel 4 sitcom ‘Catastrophe’ that sent her writing and performing career into A-list territory.
The show has been a major success for Horgan and the show’s co-writer / lead male actor, American comedian Rob Delaney, and is based loosely on her own experiences. It centres on a fledgling couple who try to make it work after Sharon’s character, Sharon, gets pregnant as a result of a short fling- oh, and Princes Leia plays Rob’s mother! It’s brilliant and if you haven’t seen it, you really should, Check it out here.
Now from an Irish comedy fan’s perspective, Sharon’s most exciting project has got to be the upcoming ‘Motherland’, recently announced by the BBC. Written as part of a comedy super-group with Father Ted creator Graham Linehan and his wife Helen, the series looks at the turbulent world of middle-class motherhood. We just know this one’s going to be good.
And it’s not just comedy fans on this side of the pond that appreciate Horgan’s skills. Her brand comedy creation ‘Divorce’ starring Sarah Jessica Parker wrapped filming in New York last year. This single-camera series centres on Frances- Parker- who realises that making a clean break from a damaged relationship is harder than she imagined. Horgan exec-produced alongside Parker and the series will air on HBO later in the year.
By the way, Channel 4 have only gone and announced this week that they are making a new sitcom pilot called ‘The Circuit’ about the hilarity of social engagement. And guess who’s writing it? If you haven’t guessed yet, see above.
2016 is going to be one hell of a year for Sharon Horgan – we just hope it doesn’t get in the way of a third series of ‘Catastrophe’!
For the Emmy’s the 1st first episode of series 1 of the Amazon / Channel 4 series is up against Master of None (Netflix) and two episodes each of HBO’s Veep & Silicon Valley. Here’s to an Irish comedy writer winning an Emmy in 2016.
PS – Grintage have published a series of features based on ‘the comedy writers toolbox’ with a view to help new Irish based comedy screen writers grow and develop. Just go to the home page and type in Comedy Writing in the search box.