Jo Brand on Damned

British comedian moves onto her next project - a social work comedy

Interview, Time In

British comedian Jo Brand moves onto her next project with social work comedy Damned.

Best known for her role as overly empathetic orderly Kim Wilde in award-winning satirical nursing sitcom Getting On, British comedian Jo Brand is back on the small screen with new workplace sitcom Damned. Here, she talks about how over-worked, over-administered and under-resourced social workers in the UK make for comedy gold.

Does Damned do for social work what Getting On did for nursing?
No, I think it’s very different. My mum was a social worker in child protection. The cliché for social workers is that you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you take a child into care, no one thanks you for it. If you don’t and something happens, you’re castigated. Any job with that kind of pressure is rich territory for comedy.

Is it easier to write real-world comedy when times are tough?
Not necessarily. The alternative comedy thing started around [Margaret] Thatcher, who was a simpler person to write comedy about because of her personality, not necessarily because of her policies. She was a bit stilted and a bit weird socially, she was married to Denis… There was an awful lot of fodder. Cameron’s a bit more difficult. I don’t think there’s a lot of interest in politics from the comedy-watching generation these days.

Is Damned a political show?
No, it’s not. In theory this could be set anywhere: a funeral directors, whatever. I’ve learnt to be a professional pessimist. It seems easier to manage your life like that rather than constantly be disappointed.

Did you want to do more series of Getting On?
The BBC did actually want more at a point at which we just couldn’t do it. Now [co-writers] Vicki [Pepperdine] and Jo [Scanlan] are doing a BBC4 series about dog walkers up in the Wirral [Puppy Love]. It’s just about fitting it all in really, which is a good thing to be able to say.

You collaborated with Morwenna Banks on Damned. Are you more comfortable working with others?
Women – I don’t know about men, because I’m not one – but women are naturally very cooperative and sociable. It’s quite lonely on your own, and hard to judge your own work, and if you’re working with friends then you can have a good old gossip.

In terms of disintegrating brains, do you lock yourself out of the house like Rose does in Damned?
I don’t, but I do put inappropriate objects in the fridge. I put the pepper in the fridge the other day – my family laughed uproariously at me and tried to get me sectioned.
Getting On series One and Two, from Dhs70, available from amazon.com. Damned coming soon.

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