Aisling Bea will write and star in This Way Up, a new comedy for Channel 4.
Previously known as Happy AF, the series is a co-production with Hulu, and sees the comedian play Aine, a whip smart English-as-a-foreign language (TEFL) teacher trying to pull her life back together after a “teeny little nervous breakdown”. Her sister, Shona, played by Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe, Pulling), worries, not only about her younger sibling, but also about her own life choices. The TEFL school where Aine teaches, meanwhile, brings together a room full of characters also trying to find their own hope, direction and happiness in this messy world.
Joining Bea and Horgan are Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show, Halal in the Family) in the role of Shona’s boyfriend, Vish, Tobias Menzies (The Crown, Outlander, Game Of Thrones) as Richard, father to one of Aine’s students, and Indira Varma (Patrick Melrose, Luther, Game of Thrones) as Shona’s colleague and confidante, Charlotte.
Other members of the cast include Sorcha Cusack as Aine and Shona’s mother, Chris Geere as Aine’s ex-boyfriend, Freddie, Kadiff Kirwan as Aine’s roommate Bradley, Ricky Grover as Aine’s friend Tom, Ekow Quartey as Aine’s boss James and Pik-Sen Lim, Todor Jordanov, Jassem Mougari, Daniela Spataru as Aine’s TEFL students.
“After years of scripts and projects that never made it to air, this show is a bit of a dream come true, so I really bloody hope you like it,” says Bea. “Sharon and I first played sisters in a TV show that got cancelled about eight years ago and we have gone on many drunken nights out across the world together since to stay in character for this project.
This Way Up has been commissioned for Channel 4 by Head of Comedy Fiona McDermott and Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 Comedy, Jack Bayles. The series will be produced by Merman. Executive Producers are Clelia Mountford (Motherland, Bliss), Sharon Horgan and Aisling Bea. The series is directed by Alex Winckler (My Mad Fat Diary, The Good Karma Hospital), and produced by Gavin O’Grady.
“Channel 4 have supported and backed me in many ways for years now, so I am over the moon to have my little baby live with them and to have it go visit its step-mother Hulu in America too.”
Fiona McDermott, Head of Comedy at Channel 4, adds: “Already an established stand up and actor, Aisling has delivered the most fantastically funny yet tender, poignant and surprising show in This Way Up and, with Sharon Horgan playing her sister, we get two of the funniest people on the planet putting their own glorious spin on the sibling thing. We love it.”