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TV Quickfire: Comedian Sarah Kendall on creating dark new sitcom Frayed

Comedian Sarah Kendall wrote and stars in Frayed, a dark new sitcom about a wealthy London housewife who's forced to return to Australia after being exposed as a fraud. We quizzed the Aussie about the 1980s-set show

Sarah Kendall as Sammy in Frayed
Gemma Dunn

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS?

I loved the idea of writing a character [Simone/Sammy] who thought that she had lied her way into this position of power, and then all the lies explode – kind of in one day.

I just love the idea of someone landing in such a hot fire and seeing how they cope. To go from that amount of wealth and privilege, to having nothing and having to confront all the lies that she has built her life on.

It was really rich for plot lines, rich for comedy, and makes you want to know what she'd been running from and why she became such a liar.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO FILM IN YOUR HOMETOWN OF NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA?

It was weird for me to be filming a show set in the world of my childhood, and to be filming that show in the town that I grew up in. That was a surreal experience. I got a real kick out of that.

COULD YOU RELATE TO SIMONE IN ANY WAY?

What I like about her is she's a survivor. No matter what happens to her, she's constantly busting it, she's constantly trying to figure out 'How am I going to deal with this mess?'

And, generally speaking, the way she deals with it is terrible, but she does something. Even if it's the worst idea possible, she just goes for it, and that's a really fun character to write, because there's no inertia with Simone.

YOU'VE GOT A GREAT CAST INCLUDING DIANE MORGAN AND ROBERT WEBB. HOW DID THEY BECOME INVOLVED?

They were people I've worked with in the past who I just think are brilliant and funny. I hadn't written with them in mind, it was just, "Oh my God, imagine if we got Diane Morgan? Oh my God, can you imagine if we got Robert Webb?" It was a sort of pie in the sky idea. So then when they said yes, I was just so happy to have them involved. When you hand over your writing to such skilled, comedic actors, then you're like "Wow, this scene crackles!".

FRAYED IS DESCRIBED AS A 'DARK COMEDY'. IS THAT A HARD BALANCE TO STRIKE?

That's all in the writing and having the confidence to play a serious scene and let it be serious, and let it be authentic. If you're not forcing the funny and you're not forcing the darker stuff, if it feels organic and real, then I think it's fine because that's what life is like.

Life isn't a genre. You get happiness and sadness alongside each other all the time. We're quite used to that and I think in fiction that's fine too. As long as it's not sentimental you know. When it's sentimental, that's when it becomes a bit 'yuck'.

WHAT'S THE MAIN MESSAGE OF THE SERIES?

In the 80s, the way most people in Britain were seeing Australia was through the lens of Home And Away and Neighbours. There was this sun-drenched, happy landscape of these healthy, happy Australians, either by the coast or living in suburbia.

I wanted to do a show that was a filthy companion piece to that. I wanted it to be a much darker version of those worlds. You've still got lots of sunshine and that healthy outdoor living, but the place is a bit of a s***hole. There's lots of unemployment and there's some pretty dark stuff happening in this world, and as the series goes on you realise that there's a load of characters with some pretty dark secrets.

:: Frayed, Sky One/NOW TV, Thursday September 26

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