Mum. Cathy (Lesley Manville)


  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Two
  • 2016 - 2019
  • 18 episodes (3 series)

Sitcom about a middle aged mother who is trying to rebuild her life following the death of her husband. Stars Lesley Manville, Peter Mullan, Sam Swainsbury, Lisa McGrillis, Ross Boatman and more.

  • JustWatch Streaming rank this week: 1,815

Episode menu

Series 1, Episode 1 - January

Mum. Image shows from L to R: Maureen (Marlene Sidaway), Reg (Karl Johnson)
It's the morning of Cathy's husband's funeral and her family gather at the house to wait for the funeral cars. Battling her brother's partner and meeting her son's new and over-enthusiastic girlfriend Kelly, Cathy prepares herself for a day of great emotion with help from her friend Michael.

Broadcast details

Friday 13th May 2016
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Tuesday 6th February 2018 11:15pm BBC2

Cast & crew

Lesley Manville Cathy
Peter Mullan Michael
Sam Swainsbury Jason
Lisa McGrillis Kelly
Ross Boatman Derek
Dorothy Atkinson Pauline
Karl Johnson Reg
Marlene Sidaway Maureen
Guest cast
Matthew Aubrey Sam (Funeral Car Driver)
Ray Emmett Brown (as Ray Emmet Brown) John (Funeral Car Driver)
Writing team
Stefan Golaszewski Writer
Production team
Richard Laxton Director
Lyndsay Robinson Producer
Jennie Fava Producer
Kenton Allen Executive Producer
Stefan Golaszewski Executive Producer
Matthew Justice Executive Producer
Barney Pilling Editor
Miranda Jones Production Designer
Ben Wheeler Director of Photography


Mum had no laughter track, but that wasn't the singular difference about this remarkable comedy [compared to Upstart Crow]. The fact that the glorious Lesley Manville hasn't played more comedy was the thing. An utter natural, she's so far been constrained by having to win seemingly endless awards in bittersweet Mike Leigh films, as if there's any other kind, but is now apparently freed up to slum it. Slum on, say I.

It's Butterflies for yet another generation, and as delightful. Again, a subtle mother - in this case a sudden widow- is the sane fulcrum around which certain fine madnesses, ranging from the silly to the grotesque to the heartbroken, revolve and tilt. It's a rather brave piece of engineering by BBC2 schedulers, gambling that the Friday night 10pm slot might attract an audience of wise young drunks, as well it might.

Manville is perfectly complemented by Peter Mullan, playing against type as seldom before - awkward, stuttery, shrinking, though I'd still never want to bat away his accent in a dark alley, and I'm bloody Scottish. Elsewhere, it's a dead heat for acting honours between Lisa McGrillis, as the son's exuberantly gauche girlfriend, and Dorothy Atkinson as the haughty sister-in-law, ("So what stopped you getting a pond in the end? Did you just realise it was...tacky?"). Two absolute stock comedy stereotypes, but seldom done better, and writer Stefan Golaszewski (Him & Her) somehow raises everything to a sharper level.

Euan Ferguson, The Guardian, 15th May 2016

Mum is a new observational piece from Stefan Golaszewski who previously created fantastic Him and Her. The mum of the title is Cathy (Lesley Manville), a recently widowed fifty-nine year old who we follow over a year of her life. The opening episode takes place on the day of her husband's funeral in January and sees her meet her son's rather ditzy girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrillis) whose airhead nature is exposed early on when she decides to wear red to the funeral. As the episode goes on we meet the other colourful characters in Cathy's life including her good-natured brother Derek (Ross Boatman), his highly-strung girlfriend Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson) and her late husband's parents (Karl Johnson and Marlene Sidaway). The most intriguing character of the piece though is Michael (Peter Mullan), an old family friend who is quite clearly holding a torch for Cathy. Michael is painted as Cathy's only confidant in a houseful of oddities and their sweet-natured conversations are a good contrast for the laugh-out-loud moments found elsewhere in Mum. Anyone who enjoyed Him and Her will know how good an ear Golaszweski has for natural dialogue and if anything the conversations in Mum feel more organic than those in the creator's previous series. I think everyone will find something in this first episode in Mum that they identify with especially when the characters talk about what the post-funeral buffet will involve. Mum brilliantly combines its humour with moments of pathos such as the latter part of the episode when Cathy finally lets her grief get the best of her. By this point in the episode Cathy has already been painted as a sympathetic character by Golaszewski and the fact that we care about as much as we do is also a testament to the performance put in by Lesley Manville. Manville totally captures Cathy's feelings on the day of the funeral and is brilliant at reacting to the various characters that have come to her house. However it's the aforementioned breakdown that sees Manville at her best and I'm hoping that next year sees her win the BAFTA she lost out on this year. Great support is provided by Lisa McGrillis as Kelly and Dorothy Atkinson as Pauline the latter of whom utilises a number of great pompous facial expressions. But of the cast I was most impressed by Peter Mullan who is a revelation giving a rather subdued performance as the kindly Michael. Watching Mullan and Manville together on screen is a particular treat and their scenes together are some of Mum's best and that only continues as the series gets going. Mum is one of those series that I just can recommend enough and I urge people go and seek it out as it is really that good.

Matt, The Custard TV, 15th May 2016

Mum review - Lesley Manville puts the fun in funeral

A new sitcom from the Him & Her creator shares the same warmth and subtle characterisation - though it starts, incongruously, with a burial.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 14th May 2016

Mum review

The tone is gentle, observational, the pace glacially lifelike. Stefan Golaszewski, who also writes plays, won a BAFTA for his previous television comedy Him & Her. Mum is more unassuming.

Jasper Rees, The Arts Desk, 14th May 2016

The spirit of Mike Leigh is all over this flinty new sitcom - and not just because it stars Leigh regular Lesley Manville. In this opener, Manville's recently widowed Cathy prepares to attend her husband's funeral, accompanied by friends, family and obnoxious in-laws. Among the excellent cast (including a serenely growling Peter Mullan), Manville is superb as Cathy, keeping it together somehow - but a whisker away from screaming her heart out.

Ali Catterall, The Guardian, 13th May 2016

Mum preview

Us Brits can find humour in anything and this touching series will have you laughing and crying as we follow a widow's attempts to move on.

Sara Wallis, The Mirror, 13th May 2016

Preview: Mum's the comedy word for Lesley Manville

A bittersweet new sitcom gives Lesley Manville, the Bafta-nominated drama actress in BBC1's River, the chance to go for laughs as a widow who is trying to move on with her life. The six-part series created by the writers of Russell Tovey's comedy Him & Her appealed to Manville because she felt she was known for plying big emotional classic roles and this was a good chance to do something lighter that still had character and substance.

Viv Hardwick, The Northern Echo, 13th May 2016

Two Doors Down has finished and so its 10pm slot has to be filled. That's logical and proper. They can't expect the viewer to watch a blank screen, can they? Of course not. They have to schedule another programme in its place - but did they have to choose this? How depressing it is to have what was once a guaranteed 30 minutes of laughs filled with the torpor of this new sitcom. Is this all there is?

Cathy is the eponymous Mum and the story opens as she's preparing for her husband's funeral. Mourners are arriving at her house so Cathy spends most of the episode making tea and slicing cake.

The show stars Peter Mullan and, while that's normally an indicator of quality, I caution you to not get your hopes up. He seems to have a deep and silent love for Cathy, which he can hardly declare to her while she's burying her husband, so he stands around in awkward silence, giving useless, sad smiles and politely reminding her that her missing glasses are actually on her head.

This will bore you unless you enjoy mild comedy lacking sharpness or wheeze-inducing laughs.

Julie McDowall, The National (Scotland), 13th May 2016

Preview: Mum, BBC2

One of BBC3's epic fails was axing the relationship sitcom Him & Her. Now at least BBC2 has gone some way towards making amends by commissioning writer Stefan Golaszewski to pen a new comedy, Mum. It's in the same chatty, conversational vein but much more mature. Imagine Him & Her 30 years on with 'Him' dead and this could be the result.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 13th May 2016

Mum, episode one review

While there were some weak patches in the first episode - I'm not sure how long we should be expected to find it funny that a woman's lost glasses are on her head - Mum looks set to be a stronger take on the trials of the M&S set than BBC One's Boomers.

Jasper Rees, The Telegraph, 13th May 2016

Mum preview

It revolves around the newly widowed Cathy, with the opener set as friends and family gather at her suburban home for David's funeral. Though it's a big occasion, the comedy here emerges from the apparently mundane. It wouldn't be out of place to mention Mum in the same breath as Abigail's Party.

Steve Bennett, Chortle, 13th May 2016

Mum is painfully funny

Mum is silly and surreal but born from the realities of grief.

Ellie Walker-Arnott, Radio Times, 13th May 2016

Mum review

Manville is excellent as the new widow trying to get her head around being a new widow, and hoping to be able to move on with her life.

Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo, 13th May 2016

Share this page