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'It's not very funny' - Caitlin Moran's new show Raised by Wolves


Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran on television; where do we begin? Nobody who's ever read her needs to be sold on the idea that she's a bona fides genius and that we need more of her asap.

If you'd asked us a few years ago we wouldn't have been overly fussy how she cropped up on television. She could be represented as a muppet (her only known photograph pose is "muppet face" and she has a longstanding crush on Gonzo), or a pop music sage - her 1992 interview with Bjork is still up on YouTube. Caitlin's columns about telly dispensed with the need for watching it. You flick through the channels and land on Joanna Lumley in yet another travelogue - meh. You flick through the internet and happen on a column by Caitlin about said travelogue that begins "Joanna Lumley is a creature composed entirely of champagne, poetry and hand cream…" - heaven. The main point seemed to be that someone needed to let this woman have a go already.  But in the years since the end of Caitlin's TV column and the appearance of Raised By Wolves, the new sitcom she's written based around her childhood experiences, a few things happened to sully our quivering anticipation of Caitlin on TV.

The first was the slow, dawning realisation that not everything she does is quite as brilliant as her columns. The feminism book sold in the millions, it's true, but its relentlessly jaunty tone made it a bit like the self-consciously "funny" person at a party who keeps laughing loudly at their own jokes.

This was something Caitlin did a lot on her many, many chat show appearances which followed the book's success. She began to bang on way, way too much about her impoverished upbringing, at times seeming to confuse her actual life with scenes from Oliver! The Musical. Her interviews - with Nigella, Gaga etc - became a tad too kiss arse-y. Her travel writing, previously vital and essential, seemed to be focussed around bought-and-paid-for junkets. And somewhere in the midst of it all it seemed like she'd jumped the shark - a notable achievement given that she still had not been given her own show. And so it was with massive amounts of trepidation that we approached the pilot of Raised By Wolves when it came out at the end of 2013 but which we only watched recently because we were terrified it would be crap. Was the fact that it took Channel 4 so long to put out a whole series confirmation that there were qualms about it?

First impressions. Cursory round of applause for depicting young, working class women coming of age. But as Caitlin herself has written, humour is the best vehicle to say everything and so far it's not very funny, certainly not as funny as Moone Boy and not even close to as funny, sad and brilliant as My Mad Fat Diary, to which it could be compared. A whole series of these sing-song British midlands accents will be hard going.

The two girls, around whom the series centres, are precocious to the point that you can almost hear the script conference that gave rise to the lines they speak. These may well be an accurate representation of the young Caitlin - she was writing for the London Times at 16 after all - but it jars a little on the screen. There are some exchanges that give glimpses of the potential: "I think you've rendered me infertile!" "Good, I would be an angry aunt!" and a pilot is probably far too early to judge Raised By Wolves as a whole. But just as Nora Ephron's books were nowhere near as good as her movies, Caitlin, who could churn out 800 words of brilliance in her sleep, seems to still be finding her feet over 30 minutes of telly. And while that is a bit disappointing it's also strangely calming to realise that that in turn probably means she'll keep on writing her column: we still win.

Raised by Wolves starts tonight March 16, 10pm, Channel 4

Sunday Independent