Where did the idea originally come from?
Holly: A friend of mine told me a story about a friend of her parents who'd had two families. He called both his kids the same name, so if someone stopped him in the street and said 'Oh - how's Tom?' he wouldn't have to worry that he was blowing his cover. As a bit of a comedy magpie I thought - 'that would make a great premise for a story'.
How was it seeing your show come together?
Pippa: It's always incredibly exciting watching a show evolve from an idea to having six scripts to being on set to being in the edit, and now it just feels incredibly scary putting it out in to the world. It was such a laugh writing with Holly and we hoped that if we were laughing at some of the scenarios we were putting our characters through that other people might find them funny too.
When we came to filming we were very lucky because we had such an amazing, talented crew and obviously our cast are genius actors so we knew they would make whatever we had written much, much better and land every scene beyond our expectations. Holly was a brilliant director who obviously knew the show inside out and was able to work with the actors in an incredibly collaborative way.
Our editor Craig Harbour really found a way to cut scenes that excavated the jokes and the heart of the show so we are indebted to him. And all the brilliant people at Core in Manchester really brought the show to life with all the final sound and picture work. So yeah, seeing the show coming together was brilliantly hard work but also incredibly rewarding every day to see everyone's talents pay off.
Holly: I know it's a cliché to say it but there were points where I really had to pinch myself - seeing our incredible cast doing the jokes we'd written in my attic. I still have our original outlines on my white board up there - I can't quite bring myself to wipe them off. It seems like such a massive journey from those first notes to what we finished up with. It was very much a collaborative show. That's what I'm most proud of. We worked with great HODs [heads of department] and crew, and I feel like everyone got what we were trying to make.
Did you have the series plot all worked out from the pilot? Did anything change?
Pippa: We knew where we wanted the series to end; we had a cliffhanger we were really happy with. But we had no idea how to get there. So plotting the series was probably the most fun part of the writing process. We had the benefit of Cathy's wedding to use as a loose arc and then it was being more forensic about each character's emotional journey and the best storylines to serve those across the series. The biggest change was probably 'a badger' to 'a deer' because we were told badgers can be quite difficult to work with...
Holly: We changed bits on set - I think that's the benefit of us being writer / director / producer - we could see when jokes weren't working and tweak them - either in rehearsals or as we blocked scenes. Luckily, the cast were incredibly generous and patient and gave us so much more than we had in the scripts, so it was a joy.
Did you talk to anyone who had been through a similar experience?
Holly: Not at the time, but strangely - since the pilot went out - it's incredible the amount of people who've told me that their dad / friend / uncle had two families. It seems to be more common than we thought.
Did you have these actors in mind when you were writing the pilot and series?
Pippa: Yes, Holly wrote Cat with Lauren Socha in mind for the pilot. We were just really, really lucky that Ellie, Siobhan and Rebecca said yes. And thanks to Rachel Sheridan (our amazing casting director) we got Amit whose audition was so brilliant he left us with no option but to cast him. It was a dream to have made the pilot when we started work on the series, because we had their voices so clearly in our heads and could write to their innumerable strengths. It was also fun to picture them doing certain things - particularly Ellie for the series cliffhanger.
There are some amazing cameo appearances, how did you go about casting those?
Holly: I'm spoilt to say we wrote a lot of them with the actors in mind, and when we asked them they were available. I'd worked with Caroline Quentin a few years before on Dead Boss (a show I made with Sharon Horgan for BBC Three) and she was so funny and inventive she was perfect Auntie Dawn. Also, it seems we have half the cast of Drop The Dead Donkey in our show, which is never a bad thing.
What was the funniest moment in filming?
Holly: Anything involving dance scenes - we had so many funny moments and they're a joy to watch. Marilyn spinning around in a wedding dress, Cat and Cathy grinding with two boys in a pub. We had to be really ruthless due to time - but if there was ever a director's cut I'd make those scenes about twenty minutes long because they made us laugh so much. I'd also love to cut a montage just of Cat eating crisps because she's a hilarious snacker.
Pippa: Rebecca's Nordic Walking, Siobhan and her sex mirror, Siobhan's facial reactions always make me laugh because she always gives you something priceless, Ellie and Lauren on their boat, Amit topless at a council recycling tip, anytime Lauren has to eat anything, Caroline Quentin's bum.
Are there any scenes that didn't make it in that you would like to have included?
Pippa: We didn't have to cut many scenes but I think anything that didn't make it might hopefully be reimagined for a second series if we are lucky enough to get one.
Holly: Yeah. We want to get Cat on a horse, and Cathy on Bake Off.