Sharon Horgan Profile

She co-wrote the most accurate ever sitcom about being single in your 30s (quick version: it sucks), but how did Sharon Horgan end up being one of the best comedy writers of her generation? Not easily, is how.


Showbiz. It's a bit like the Tower of London: hard to break into, and full of people wearing silly clothes. Sharon Horgan could tell you some stories, but she's not available right this second so we'll relay the information on her behalf: getting into television, specifically the vicious and maddening world of comedy television, is... well, vicious and maddening. Of course, being a former convent schoolgirl, Sharon had already developed a rhino-like hide. As she herself put it, the head nun was "pretty demonic". Presumably exorcists were thin on the ground, so young Sharon just had to put her head down and get on with it.

She kept getting on with it later – first at uni, and then in a dazzling variety of rubbish jobs. For two unending-seeming years, she sold tat in Camden. You know those t-shirts with messages like "I'm Not As Think As You Drunk I Am" and "Take Me To Your Dealer" and other pithy quips worthy of a modern day Wilde? She flogged those to idiot teenagers, presumably while taking long sanity breaks in the shop's chill out room (yes, the shop actually had one of those).

Luckily, she kept on with the comedy writing, alongside her mate Dennis Kelly. It all seemed pretty hopeless, of course – they'd send big fat wads of sitcom scripts to production companies. Whose staff would presumably scrunch them up into balls to throw at each other during their brainstorming sessions. Or carefully craft them into intricate, loving, origami sculptures of Ben Elton's face. The point is, nobody was listening. Until the strange day someone did. Someone at the BBC, who invited her to submit stuff for a comedy competition, which Sharon and Dennis went and won. Huzzah.

They were suddenly on their way, with various credits for various shows appearing on Sharon's CV. And finally – FINALLY – she and Dennis got their sitcom made. This was Pulling, the programme that did for Penge what The Office did for Slough. It was a brilliantly honest take on life, love and dossing about in a big city in your early 30s. You know how the gang in Friends had a frankly insultingly easy time of it, despite the lamentations of the title music lyrics? Well, Pulling really WAS about people whose love lives were DOA, or at least very, very ill-advised ("OK so he might be a flasher, but he's MY flasher!").

Brilliant and still strangely underrated, Pulling put Sharon Horgan on the comedy map at long last. And there's been no laurel-resting since then – she starred alongside Anthony "Giles" Head and Stephen "Hair and teeth" Mangan in Free Agents, a darkly comic show about love, ambition and gropey hands in a talent agency. Admittedly, the show she wrote for Channel 5, called Angelo's, didn't last long, but this isn't the place to write cheap, cliched, out of date jibes about Channel 5, so we'll leave you to merely imagine them. In 2012, Sharon teamed up with stand-up comic Holly Walsh to write Dead Boss, the funniest show set in a women's prison since Cell Block H. By coincidence, Holly's a writer for Crackanory, the rudely rebooted Jackanory-type show which happens to star Sharon. See, we told you she could tell you some stories.

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