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I TALK Psychobitches

First of all, all I really want to say about Psychobitches, is that it contains some of THE funniest comedy I've seen all year on telly.

Don't get me wrong, there's been plenty of great comedy so far in 2013 but nothing has made me laugh out loud quite as much as Psychobitches when I went along to a special BAFTA screening last week, hosted by Richard Bacon. In fact, I wasn't alone, the whole room was filled with laughter from start to finish as we sat back and enjoyed the first two episodes of Psychobitches.

You may remember Psychobitches from last year's Playhouse Presents series on Sky Arts, where it was a one-off short for the channel's season. It came as no surprise when Sky announced that they had commissioned Tiger Aspect to make a full series.

Why so? Well, quite simply it's because it's so different to all the other comedies that are currently on television. This is no Miranda or Mrs Brown's Boys, the comedy in this is far more dark but hilarious none-the-less. In fact the best comparison I guess is The League of Gentlemen, which comes as no surprise as Jeremy Dyson, co-writer for Psychobitches is The League of Gentlemen co-creator, Jeremy Dyson.Speaking at the BAFTA screening, Dyson said "It was the most terrific idea, because I love sketch shows, I've worked on a lot of sketch shows. But the problem with the sketch show is always the format.

Usually you struggle for a reason for the sketches to be together, and this was such a strong format. Such a great idea because you can go anywhere with it, but be in one room. That was one thing, and the other thing was that it was all women."

When asked at the screening by Richard Bacon - "Why only women?" - producer Ben Cavey responded with a comment that received a great response. He said, "Because I'm so bored of male comedians telling me that women aren't funny. And it really does, my head in. If you go to any comedy club in this country you will hear that everywhere!"

Which leads nicely into what the series is about. As Dyson mentioned, this is not a sitcom, but a sketch show that features a host of iconic historical female characters, all of whom are now dead.

The series is led brilliantly by Rebecca Front, who plays a  discerning therapist, who has to sit there in the same chair, occasionally changing rooms whilst a host of female characters from yesteryear walk in to bare all.

Speaking at BAFTA about who her character likes the most, Front said "Sylvia (Plath), because Sylvia actually does her work, and possibly Beatrix. But yes, she hates them all!".The characters she encounters come in a range of shapes and sizes, played by a range of wonderful female comedy talent. Including Audrey Hepburn, Mary, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Victoria, all played by Samantha Spiro who really gets the chance to shine in this. Too often her roles are perhaps the funniest but not the biggest, in particular I'm thinking of her role in Grandma's House.

There's also Mona Lisa played by Kathy Burke, Bette Davis played by Frances Barber, Eve played by Sharon Horgan. Katy Brand as Mary Shelley and another one of my favourites, Enid Blyton played by Julia Davis (see right) as well as a host of there characters.

Some played by those names I've already mentioned as well as appearances from Zawe Ashton, Jo Scanlan, Tamsin Egerton, Sharon D Clarke. Not forgetting the three Bronté sisters (see left), played brilliantly by Katy Brand, Selina Griffiths and Sarah Solemani. Mainly because they spend the entire time with their heads poking through the back of a sofa.

It's not just an array of female talent who feature in Psychobitches. Also appearing in the show are Jack Whitehall, Harry Enfield and The League of Gentlemen trio; Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.

Mark Gatiss plays Joan Crawford (see right) who together with Frances Barber's Bette Davis create some of the funniest scenes from the whole show.

One thing's for sure, this is one of those rare comedy gems that you will not want to miss. It might  be on a relatively small channel but with such an array of talent and characters there's bound to be something for everybody, especially comedy fans.

Psychobitches airs Thursdays at 9pm on Sky Arts


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