'My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom' to air on Channel 4

Thursday 16th May 2024, 11:40am

My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom. Mark O'Sullivan
  • Channel 4 is to air a documentary following comedian Mark O'Sullivan as he makes a sitcom about the sexual abuse he survived as a child
  • The network will also stream My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom (The Actual Sitcom), the 80s style studio audience comedy made during the documentary
  • O'Sullivan says: "Making something positive out of the trauma I went through as a child really feels like the best - the only - way for me to deal with it"

Channel 4 is to air a "bold and moving" documentary which follows comedian Mark O'Sullivan as he writes and directs a studio audience sitcom about the sexual abuse he survived as a child. The network will also stream the resultant sitcom.
O'Sullivan, who has previously starred in builder-based sitcom Lee And Dean on the channel, went to court when he was in his thirties to convict the man who abused him.

Channel 4 explains: "Charting the writing, rehearsals and eventual filming of the 80s-style family sitcom in front of a studio audience, the documentary explores why Mark has chosen to deal with his abuse in this way. He asks whether comedy really can be used to confront some of the worst parts of the human experience. 

"As the sitcom begins to take shape with an all-star cast including Cariad Lloyd, Rufus Jones, Ellie Taylor and Sam Underwood, Mark reveals his daring decision to play a 12-year-old version of himself, and the unusual portrayal of the paedophile.

My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom (The Actual Sitcom). Image shows left to right: Mark O'Sullivan, Cariad Lloyd

"In order to make the sitcom Mark delves into his past, meeting a range of people who help him understand what he went through as a child, from a friend of his late parents, to a psychotherapist, and his wife Jenny.

"Through these encounters, Mark also examines what happened when, as an adult, he revealed the abuse to his family, the court case that took place when Mark was in his thirties, and the ways that being a survivor of abuse continue to shape his life and mental health.

"With his comedy partner and best friend, Miles Chapman, Mark weighs up the role of humour in dealing with trauma, and with fellow abuse survivor, broadcaster and comedian-turned counsellor, Iain Lee, Mark is challenged about what he's doing and why.

"Culminating in the studio recording of the sitcom in front of an audience, the documentary builds into an audacious, heartfelt and, at times, funny exploration of the effects of childhood sexual abuse, and the redemptive power of creativity."

Mark O'Sullivan says: "Making something positive out of the trauma I went through as a child really feels like the best - the only - way for me to deal with it. Being given the opportunity to drag what happened to me out into daylight, where it's not nearly as powerful and destructive as it was when hidden, has helped me so much. I really hope it helps others, and allows more people to talk about something which, understandably, we often don't want to confront. This has been a hard but incredibly worthwhile journey, and I'm so grateful to Channel 4 for the opportunity, and to Joe [director Joe Evans] and Neil [executive producer Neil Crombie] at Swan Films for their compassion, sensitivity, and vision."

Joe Evans, who produces and directs the documentary, comments: "It's been an incredible privilege to work with Mark O'Sullivan on a project in which he's laid his soul bare, and found a strikingly original way - both through his comedy, and his extraordinary testimony in the documentary - to express the complex impact that childhood sexual abuse has had on him."

Commissioner Shaminder Nahal says: "I'd like to give huge thanks to Mark O'Sullivan and Swan Films for making such a beautiful, heart-rending and innovative film about such difficult and personal subject matter. I'm convinced it will help so many people, and it makes us all think about these unbelievably complex issues in new, searching and surprising ways."  

Cariad Lloyd, who stars in the court scenes in the sitcom, adds: "Mark writing and confronting his trauma through comedy has been at times, heart-breaking, but mostly a life affirming process, to see creativity allow a new narrative to be written."

My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom will air on Channel 4 on Tuesday 28th May at 10pm. The comedy show made in the documentary will be available to stream after the documentary has aired, available under the title My Sexual Abuse: The Sitcom (The Actual Sitcom).

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