NEWS

14 Mar 2016
Merman

Merman making a splash

Sharon Horgan had wanted to name one of her daughters Muireann, but didn’t as her husband couldn’t pronounce it. While this would become a running joke on Horgan’s critically acclaimed relationship sitcom Catastrophe, it also informs why Horgan chose the name Merman for the company she founded with producer Clelia Mountford. “There’s no huge reason behind the name – Muireann means ‘of the sea’ in Irish so I guess I got it into the company name, if not my daughter’s. And as ridiculous as it sounds, there’s this scene in Zoolander that I’ve no idea why I got stuck in my head …” Horgan is struggling to keep a straight face. “Plus, I really like mermen. I like men with half-fish bodies.”

“And no penises,” Mountford chips in. As the pair dissolve into laughter, Horgan muses that, when it comes to the company name, “we should have a better story”.

Stories are important to Horgan and Mountford, who are rapidly building a business on them. In the past fortnight alone, Merman has signed a three-year, first-look deal with Sky Vision and has had two pilots announced: for the BBC, Motherland, co-written by Horgan, Holly Walsh, and Graham and Helen Linehan, and for Channel 4, The Circuit, a comedy about a series of disastrous dinner parties reuniting Horgan with Pulling writing partner Dennis Kelly. Then there’s the hat trick of Royal Television Society award nominations for Catastrophe, plus wins at Friday’s Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Best Comedy and Best Writers for Horgan and co-writer Rob Delaney.

“We had no idea that Catastrophe would be the success that it was,” Horgan says. “For years, I said that it doesn’t really matter if no one is watching as long as you’re proud of what you’ve made. Now I feel it’s much better when more people see it and appreciate the story and characters. It was a really hard slog to make two [series] within a year – it killed us a bit – but apart from that …”

Horgan and Mountford met on The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, as actor and producer respectively. Mountford had worked in theatre and radio, and in television as a freelance producer and head of comedy at RDF. She also devised A Young Doctor’s Notebook starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe. Horgan’s breakout hit as a writer-performer was in the brutally funny noughties comedy Pulling. And now there’s Catastrophe. Clearly they are talents at the top of their game – so what convinced them to team up?

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Source: The Guardian

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