Alison Bell in a scene from the pilot of The Letdown.
Alison Bell in a scene from the pilot of The Letdown.

Pilots fly in for a showdown

IF YOU’RE a mum, or a dad, then you’ll relate to Alison Bell’s new comedy.

The Letdown is one of six comedy show pilots the ABC is giving airtime to in its Comedy Showdown series, a joint initiative with Screen Australia.

Feedback from the viewing public on iView will determine which of the six pilots will be developed into a full series.

The Letdown, co-written by and starring Bell, follows struggling new mum Audrey and the local parent support group she thinks she doesn’t need.

“I just hope it makes you laugh,” Bell tells me. “If you haven’t got kids then you might get an insight into why your friends with kids are mental.”

From breast pumping to sleep deprivation and a lacklustre sex life, the comedy doesn’t shy away from the challenges of modern parenthood.

“It was important to both of us (my co-writer Sarah Scheller and I) that we don’t shy away from the loneliness and isolation that can occur when you have a child, particularly in situations where you might be the first of your friends to have a baby,” she says.

“We will make fun of everyone, including our own mothering techniques, but underneath that we’d like to tell a story about how parents can support parents through this and other people can too.”

Bell jokes that, as the mum of a young child, she dabbled in method acting while shooting the pilot. She began work on the concept, though, before falling pregnant.

“I was watching my siblings and my friends become new parents and was noticing how there was such a paucity of truthful representations of motherhood on screen,” she says.

The Letdown impressively boasts a top-notch Aussie cast including Patrick Brammall (in a hilarious cameo), Noni Hazelhurst, Lucy Durack and Ewen Leslie.

If Bell looks familiar, then that’s because the Helpmann Award winner starred in another ABC comedy, Laid, in 2011.

She says making her own comedy pilot was the most humbling week of her life.

“It was incredible to see how hard everyone worked to bring together a silly little thing Sarah and I wrote,” she says.

“I have a renewed love and respect for writers and producers. If we go forward, then it will be an incredibly steep learning curve.”

The Letdown airs on ABC1 on Wednesday at 9pm.

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