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'This show is all about women... I don't know or care what men say or think'

Writing sister act Caitlin and Caroline Moran are now welcoming Raised By Wolves back for a second run. The two women chat to Susan Griffin about breaking taboos and bigger storylines

Published 24/02/2016

Write on: Caitlin Moran
Write on: Caitlin Moran
Raised By Wolves which is back on our TV screens
Family affair Caroline and Caitlin Moran

Despite the success of the pilot and the ensuing first series of Raised By Wolves, sisters Caitlin and Caroline ('Caz') Moran didn't dare presume they'd be back for another run.

"We were like, 'F*** it, let's just leave it on a huge cliff-hanger'," exclaims Caitlin, the columnist, author and strident feminist, on set in Manchester. "We thought, 'It'll be fine, that'll be easy enough to solve later on'."

A few months later, the show was re-commissioned - and suddenly the task of continuing the plot was real.

"It was like, 'Right, what's going to happen to these guys now'?" she recalls, laughing.

"You never know if you're going to get another chance at a series," adds co-creator Caz.

"I'd hate the idea of holding anything back. If you're going to try and entertain people, put all your best stuff in there.

"And this time, there's just so much going on in every episode. It's absolutely action-packed."

The sisters are two of eight siblings, and the series is inspired by their own chaotic upbringing (loads of kids, no money, home-schooled ...).

The story follows Germaine, played by Helen Monks, and Aretha, portrayed by Alex Davies - a mini Caitlin and Caz respectively - and their younger siblings, including Yoko (Molly Risker), who live in Wolverhampton with their straight-talking, survivalist mum Della (Rebekah Staton) and her dad 'Grampy' (Philip Jackson).

This time round, the characters are "a little bit more grounded", explains Caz.

"Obviously, you learn an awful amount going through the first series and that really informed the way we saw what this series was going to be," says the 40-year-old.

"It's less autobiographical because the characters are out in the world a bit more, doing their own things."

The sisters reveal that the verbose Germaine is "busy investigating the world of love and boyfriends", while Yoko is "hitting adolescence hard", and the introverted Aretha discovers something quite unusual about herself - becoming a bit rebellious as a result.

"The other main thing about this series is that everyone's got much bigger stories, so there are story arcs across the series," adds Caz.

"This is her thing," interjects Caitlin. "She has immense vision." After closely observing the actors at work, there were certain aspects the siblings wanted to focus on.

"We realised that it was great when Grampy's sexual and we needed to do something about that," explains Caitlin with a throaty laugh, before adding that 67-year-old Jackson was one of their childhood heroes. "He's just great being sleazy and sexually active, and we liked the idea of an OAP having the biggest sex life of any character in the show."

Caz agrees. "Grampy has a lot of fun this series," she adds, grinning. "He's very flirtatious and much more in the heart of the family." And they mean that in the literal sense - as, Caitlin notes, he's living under the stairs "like the boy wizard Harry Potter".

They also wanted to see Della get more hands on, albeit in a more pragmatic way.

"Becca's so great with the action, we were like, 'Let's get her to do things, like when she's kicking the doors, or she's using the power tools'," reveals Caitlin, who recalls one of their first meetings with the actress. "She was like, 'I think we should play Della like a cowboy, a preacher', and we thought, 'That's just amazing'."

As viewers bore witness, the series cliff-hanger was the silhouette of Della's absent partner - the kids' father - appearing at the door.

"Della has to make financial decisions, and emotionally has to deal with the return of her ex. It's how she interacts with him and her vulnerabilities," divulges Caz. "There's more sense of drama this series. The jokes are almost an added extra in this one."

The forthright Della is a big part of the show's appeal. "You don't really get any single mums like her, particularly one who's so unusual, strong and funny, and so in charge of her life," says Caitlin.

"She's the centre of her world and the response, particularly from women who watch, is they've never seen a sitcom like this before.

"We don't know how to write normal male characters. I don't know what men say and think and don't have much interest, God bless them. It's all about the ladies."

It's why they relied on one of their brothers for some vital input. "Jimmy was like a 'man consultant'," says Caitlin, chuckling.

"Yes, he wrote some jokes for us and was very helpful in the later stages, writing and rewriting," says Caz.

"I've worked with him on a few things, and it's really helpful once I've got past the point of simply being patronising ..."

The genesis of the series came about one "very drunken night", some 15 years ago.

"We wrote it originally as a film, which was set in the Nineties so more autobiographical, and the feedback we got was that it would be better as a sitcom, so we crunched everything down," reveals Caz.

But even as a series, they were initially met with scepticism by commissioning editors.

"We took it around places and they were like, 'We've already got a project with women in it this year so we can't do it'," recalls Caitlin. "This was before (2011 movie) Bridesmaids, so that was a bit of a b***-ache."

"But then we switched it up and it fell into place. By then I'd been writing for 10 years, so my writing was better," adds Caz. "Looking back at earlier scripts, there's stuff that's possibly a bit ropey."

Caitlin insists they've never been told to rein in the subject matter.

"We're so lucky that our executive producers, who've worked on Green Wing and The Royle Family, are people who push the boundaries," notes Caitlin, who laments the lack of diversity on screen.

"You just want to see every type of person, don't you? It's still noticeable that the representation of people of colour on television is just nuts. It's the same with the working class."

Like her sister, she's keen to continue breaking so-called taboos, or as she puts it, "the list of things you haven't seen on screen yet".

Not that she wants to divulge what's on her wish-list.

As Caitlin concludes: "I'd be giving away the list of things we want to tackle in series three."

Raised By Wolves returns to Channel 4 next Wednesday, March 2 at 10pm

Belfast Telegraph

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