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I TALK Raised By Wolves

"We're not southern twats, and we're not northern twats. We're midlands twats." - and with that we are introduced to sitcom's newest, and freshest family, the Garrys.

You may remember Raised By Wolves from a pilot episode back in December 2013, which was shown on Channel 4. The pilot was so well received that thankfully Channel 4 commissioned a full six-part series. Fast forward 15 months and one of the most refreshing British sitcoms is about to hit our screens...

Raised By Wolves is written and created by Caitlin Moran together with her sister Caz Moran, and it's a modern-day reimagining of the brilliant chaos of their own childhood. Loads of kids, no money, home-schooled, and educating themselves on a bounty of books, films, TV and pop music.

So who exactly are the Garrys? Well... there's Grampy, his daughter Della and her six children; eldest Germaine, second eldest Aretha, then Yoko and the three babies; Cher, Mariah and Wyatt - fantastic names I'm sure you'll agree.

Last week I attended the launch for the series at Channel 4, which involved a Q&A with the cast, Caitlin and Caz, and the one thing that surprised me about the screening was just how brilliant Helen Monks, who plays Germaine, a younger version of Caitlin Moran, was.

For a newcomer, Helen handled herself brilliantly in the Q&A, as did Alexa Davies, who plays Aretha, a character based on Caz Moran. Their confidence at the screening was more than justified as their performances really are something to be admired. There's a certain energy and dynamic that I think a sitcom like Raised By Wolves needs, and together with Rebekah Staton, Philip Jackson and the rest of the cast, the two girls really helped to deliver half an hour of brilliance.

The casting of Helen Monks as Germaine could not have been more perfect, she looks like Caitlin. She acts like Caitlin, so it was no surprise to find out at the screening that Helen was (and I'd imagine still is) obsessed with Caitlin Moran, and the story of how she landed the part is one of the best I've ever heard...

"I already stalked Caitlin to a pretty unhealthy level, to the point of forming my life in her footsteps. I already kind of was her, I went to see Caitlin at Birmingham Literature Festival and she mentioned in the talk that she was penning this sitcom and then I ran to get my book signed and she said "Oh you look like a Moran" and I said - "Oh, I should play you in your sitcom!" She wrote down her email address and I was so embarrassed because I realised subconsciously that I was dressed identically to Caitlin!"

Sadly Alexa Davies didn't have such an interesting story about how she landed the part of Aretha - "My agent called me. Said I've got an audition, and I went." - but in actual fact, the way she told that story received a great response from the audience in the room. Speaking at the screening, Caz Moran described how she wasn't as cool as Aretha, and made her "...everything she would have loved to have been at that age."

In the first episode, the family are taken out into nature, by their survivalist mother Della, played brilliantly by the no nonsense Rebekah Staton, and when I say nature, I do of course mean the local common. The purpose of their little field trip? To forage for free food and ‘skill up’. When we first meet Germaine, we find her in the grip of adolescent hormones, and comes up with a psychologically unhealthy way to get closer to the boy of her very delusional dreams, Lee. Elsewhere, her younger sister Yoko, played by Molly Risker, realises she's becoming a woman whilst going for a wee in the bushes, prompting an emergency intervention from Della.

If hearing about old people's sex life is your thing, then you're going to love the character of Grampy, Della's father, played by Philip Jackson. In the first episode, we're offered a deeply distressing insight into his sex life as we see him get ready for some afternoon delight with his overbearing wife 'Shit Nan'.

One of the scenes to look forward to later on in the series, according to Caitlin Moran, who got quite animated when talking about this scene at the screening, is when Germain has a wank to the Question Time theme tune! Caitlin revealed that she had to get permission from Dimbleby and luckily she knows David's son - "I had to send the weirdest email I've ever sent! Hi Henry, I haven't seen you for a year, could you just ask your dad, if a character based on me, had a wank whilst looking at your face? Thankfully he sent an email back saying "Yes! That'd be absolutely smashing!"

Rather unusually for a press screening, we were shown episodes one and six at the screening, but luckily I've managed to watch all but episode five, the famous episode with the Dimbleby wank. Obviously I can't give away what happens at the end of the series, but what I will say is that if Channel 4 don't commission a second series I'd be very upset... and in just over six week's time you'll find out why!

Having been a fan of Caitlin Moran's writing and indeed her Twitter feed, I'm delighted she's been given the opportunity to, along with her sister, create a sitcom that feels raw, real and rude. But ultimately Raised By Wolves is a very funny, very believable and very well written new comedy. Between this and Catastrophe, Channel 4 are having a brilliant year when it comes to comedy... long may it continue!

Raised By Wolves starts Monday 16th March at 10pm on Channel 4


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