Hullraisers: Is The British Sitcom Based on Real Life?

Created by Lucy Beaumont, ‘Hullraisers’ is a British sitcom that centers around a trio of women living in England’s port city of Hull and revolves around their everyday life as a part of the working class. The trio consists of a struggling actress and mother, Toni, her grounded older sister Paula, and their single friend, Rana. The show focuses on female narratives and delves into the struggles and realities of being a working mom with money problems.

With compelling performances by Leah Brotherhead, Sinead Matthews, and Taj Atwal, the show’s narrative is highlighted in a humorous, light-hearted fashion through relatable characters and storylines. Given the show’s true-to-life setting and its genuine yet captivating depiction of everyday life, many might question how closely the story and its characters align with actual events.

A British Adaptation of an Israeli Sitcom Infused With Creators’ Experiences

No, ‘Hullraisers’ is not based on a true story. It is an adaptation of the Israeli sitcom, ‘Little Mom,’ and derives some inspiration from it. However, for the most part, the plotlines and characterizations explored in the show are works of the show writers Lucy Beaumont, Anne Marie O’Connor, and Caroline Moran. The production company Fable Pictures first approached Beaumont to work on a pilot for a British sitcom based on ‘Little Mom.’ Creator Beaumont was initially impressed by the authenticity of motherhood portrayed in ‘Little Mom,’ and wanted to bring a similar feeling to ‘Hullraisers.’

Therefore, Beaumont based the show on her own city, Kingston upon Hull, in England. With ‘Hullraisers,’ she wanted to represent the city’s working class and their creative, artsy caliber. Similarly, like the setting, the characters that form the base of the show are also all partly inspired by real people from Beaumont’s life. The three leading ladies, Toni, Paula, and Rana, are reportedly inspired by some of Beaumont’s friends. Many of the arcs, like Rana’s affair with a football mascot and the pole dancing storyline, are loosely based on instances from the experiences of Beaumont or one of her friends.

Additionally, Beaumont also had some inspiration for the unapologetically sexual character of Rana from another show called ’24 Hours In Police Custody.’ “There was an officer who was leading this really aggressive man in handcuffs, and she had false eyelashes and a smoky eye. I was like, that’s not for anyone but herself. She’s not trying to impress people she has got in cells,” she told Chortle, explaining the origin behind Rana’s character. Once the series was picked up, Moran and O’Connor were added as co-writers.

Both O’Connor and Moran are also from a working-class background and wanted to portray the lived realities of people from Hull authentically. Talking about the show, O’Connor said, “It’s fine to be aspirational but representation on TV is really important to me, especially for working-class people coming through the industry. When there’s an authenticity to those stories, it really resonates with audiences… (The characters are) all happy and they like their lives, and that’s another thing we really wanted to depict in terms of the working classes. It’s not a Ken Loach film. It’s not misery tourism.”

Throwing additional light on the same, Moran said, “I grew up in a council house on benefits and seeing working-class life on TV was very affirming. There were these funny, intelligent, characters who weren’t just the butt of the joke, but the people making the jokes. There have been, lately, a lot of middle-class, aspirational shows. Hullraisers has a different take. It’s very authentic and it’s not about Hull being the butt of the joke, it’s about showing how intelligent and funny and creative the people there are. And what comes from being overlooked is local pride and a sort of self-deprecating humour.”

The show writers all wanted to portray Hull — an underrepresented part of England — as authentically as possible. As a result, the characters are able to resonate with so many people on a deeper level. In the same vein, actress Leah Brotherhead, who plays the role of Toni, also hails from the city of Hull. Her experiences and connections with the place helped her build a link to her character. She took inspiration from people around her old hometown and constructed her portrayal of Toni’s character from there.

Since the friendship between Toni, Paula, and Rana forms the base premise of the show, the actors’ portrayal of that friendship is crucial to the comedic as well as the relatable factor of the narrative. On the other hand, it also focuses on the distinctive lives of three women. Therefore it also needs to present them all with stories that explore the nuances and intricacies of their respective experiences. The show manages to deliver on both those fronts.

The storylines and character arcs explored in the show are very easy for the audience to relate to. Many people can see their own experiences reflected in Toni and Paula’s exploits in motherhood and their respective family lives. Meanwhile, Rana brings a separate but equally relatable narrative of an individual who enjoys her single life. The events that unfold in each episode are very mundane and therefore have their roots in reality. All of this combined allows ‘Hullraisers’ to tell a real story without having a firm relationship to reality.

Ultimately, ‘Hullraisers’ is not based on a true story. However, it takes inspiration from real life and reportedly even real events at times. The reason it feels so authentic is that the people involved in the making of the show were all committed to telling a relatable story about a demographic that personally resonated with them. The way it depicts the lives of people from the working class is authentic without being demeaning or trivializing. It’s a show written by people from backgrounds similar to the characters. Therefore, they are able to lend a unique relatability and reality to this otherwise fictional show.

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