Created by Lorna Martin and Sharon Horgan and adapted from Martin’s critically-acclaimed comic memoir, Woman on the Verge has been described as a frank, hilarious and often shocking love letter to women who haven’t ticked all the boxes and whose lives are a bit messier and a bit more complicated than they ever thought they’d be.
Whilst everyone else is settling down, married with kids, and increasingly in control of their lives, Laura, Katie and Alison seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Women On The Verge follows these flawed and complex friends as they navigate the challenges of life, love and relationships.
In the first episode, after a potential work promotion, a family christening and a messy love triangle collide disastrously, Laura (Kerry Condon) decides it is time to take action to stop herself from completely unravelling. Alison (Eileen Walsh), desperate for a baby and sick of first dates, decides to get back with her ex Martin (Aaron McCusker), despite not being in love with him. Single parent Katie (Nina Sosanya) backs out of an artificial insemination to give her daughter Ella a sibling but finds out some surprising news concerning her ex-husband’s new wife Siobhan (Valene Kane).
We caught up with co-creator Sharon Horgan, who also plays Dr Fitzgerald.
How did you first become aware of Lorna Martin’s book ‘Woman On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’?
It was sent to me – it was such a long time ago now, I can’t even remember who sent it! I read it when I was on holiday and immediately liked her writing. She made me laugh a lot – and her style and humour really come across in the series. I liked the friendships in her book, too – the women are blunt and honest with each other. And I liked that it was based on real life; it was an ongoing story.
It took a while to get off the ground. Why was that, and did you always have faith in the project?
When I initially spoke to Lorna she was about to have her first baby, so things had changed for her since she wrote the book and we were both busy, so it took a little while to get off the ground. Sometimes things don’t happen immediately because of ‘TV’ reasons, but it was never because of Lorna’s writing or because of the idea or anything like that – but yes, I always had faith in it.
And UKTV and W have been absolutely lovely and couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive. I think it’s exciting for them, too, because it’s their first ever original scripted commission for the channel, so it’s all quite new to all of us – new team, new panel, but it’s been a really lovely experience. And we couldn’t have got luckier with the cast: Nina and Eileen and Kerry have worked so hard to get it right and I know it’s made it easier for Lorna having them there. Lorna really deserves the credit for writing the script. I co-wrote the first episode alongside her, but otherwise it’s all her work and she’s done a fantastic job.
Always, if she sent me a script, there was something in it that really made me laugh and that I knew would work.
And how did the story develop as part of this process?
It’s interesting because Laura’s job is one that you might, from the outside, think is glamorous and it’s a job people would kill to do, but what happened was she was missing deadlines and missing flights and messing it up. So that felt like a good base and then we always thought it would be interesting to see the character Laura with other women at different stages of their lives.
Would you make a good therapist yourself?
I kind of think I’m not a great talker but I am a good listener. I think hopefully I have an interest in human nature and I do spend all of my time listening to people because I’m a writer. So yeah, I think I would. But you know, part time, or a summer job.
Women On The Verge starts on Thursday on W at 10pm