|Born||Sharon Lorencia Horgan
(1970-07-13) 13 July 1970
Hackney, London, England
|Occupation||Actress, writer, comedian|
|Spouse(s)||Jeremy Rainbird (m. 2005)|
|Relatives||Shane Horgan (brother)|
Sharon Lorencia Horgan (born 13 July 1970) is an Irish actress, writer, and producer, based in London. She is known for the comedy series Pulling and Catastrophe, both of which she starred in and co-wrote.
Pulling was nominated for two British Academy Television Awards, and won two British Comedy Awards. In 2016, she won the BAFTA Craft Award for Best Writer: Comedy, along with Rob Delaney, for Catastrophe. In July 2016, she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
Horgan was born in Hackney, London, England. Her mother, Ursula (née Campbell), is Irish, from County Kildare, and her parents originated from Midfield near the towns of Kilkelly, Kiltimagh and Swinford in County Mayo. Her father, John Horgan, is from New Zealand, and ran a pub. When she was four years old, Horgan’s parents moved the family to Bellewstown, County Meath in Ireland, to run a turkey farm.
One of five siblings, in interviews Horgan has described her childhood as happy. She has also spoken fondly of growing up on the farm, where she helped with plucking the turkeys: “you pluck down, not up”, she once told an interviewer. Horgan later used her childhood experiences for the semi-autobiographical short film The Week Before Christmas for Sky Arts 1. Horgan went to the Sacred Heart convent school in Drogheda, which she described in an interview with The Observer in December 2012 as an unhappy experience. “I didn’t enjoy it at all”, she said.
In her early twenties, Horgan moved back to London and attended various drama courses. As a young actress struggling to make ends meet she took a series of odd-jobs, including working in call centres and waitressing. For nearly two years she earned her living selling bongs in a head shop in Camden, London. At the age of 27, Horgan started a degree in English and American Studies at Brunel University in west London, graduating in 2000. Around that time, Horgan met British writer Dennis Kelly, while they were both working in youth theatre, and they started writing together, producing material they then sent to the BBC, for which they won the BBC New Comedy Award in 2001 for Sketch Writing and Performance.
Horgan has appeared on stage, television and screen. Her first credited appearances on television were in The State We’re In (2002) and Monkey Dust (2003), two sketch shows based on news and current affairs. She also contributed material to Monkey Dust. Her first named acting role on television was as Theresa O’Leary in Absolute Power (2003), a comedy set in the world of public relations and starring Stephen Fry. In 2005, she made her big-screen debut as Beth in Imagine Me & You, a British-American romantic comedy directed by Ol Parker.
Horgan made a cameo appearance in BBC’s Extras before appearing as a guest booker in two series of Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive (2006–07), also on the BBC, a spoof comedy set behind the scenes of a chat show presented by Rob Brydon. She won a British Comedy Award in 2007 for Best Female Newcomer for her performance.
In 2010, Horgan appeared in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. The US/UK comedy series was written by David Cross, who also appeared as the eponymous anti-hero, an incompetent American who takes a job leading the London sales team for an energy drink. Horgan played Alice Bell, the café owner on whom he developed a crush. After a three-year hiatus following the second series, IFC announced a third series would be broadcast in late 2015.
In September 2011, Horgan appeared in the world premiere of Saul Rubinek‘s play Terrible Advice at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London. The play set in Los Angeles and she played Delila, one half of its two warring couples.
In June 2012, Horgan was part of the ensemble cast for the pilot episode of Psychobitches, shown as part of Sky Arts 1’s Playhouse Presents strand. In the sketch show, famous women from history are psychoanalysed by Rebecca Front‘s therapist; Horgan played the novelist Jane Austen in the pilot, and later characters included Eva Peron, Cleopatra, Boudicca and Carmen Miranda. Two series of Psychobitches followed; the first was shown in May 2013, and the second in November 2014. Horgan played a supporting role in the 2018 dark comedy Game Night as Sarah, a newcomer to the group of friends unwittingly roped into the game.
Also, Horgan has voiced characters in the film Valiant (2005), CBBC’s Big Babies (2010) and the short film Miss Remarkable & Her Career (2010). She has made guest appearances in series including Moone Boy (2015), Crackanory and on panel shows including So Wrong It’s Right and We Need Answers. In May 2015, she appeared as Elaine in Man Up, a romantic comedy written by Tess Morris, starring Simon Pegg and directed by Ben Palmer. In 2017, Horgan provided the voices of Minerva Mertens (the long-lost mother of the protagonist, Finn the Human) in the Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time, and Courtney Portnoy in the animated series Bojack Horseman.
Horgan’s career breakthrough was Pulling, which she co-wrote with Dennis Kelly and starred in. She played Donna, an irresponsible marketing manager who calls off her wedding at the last minute, and one of three women sharing a flat in Penge, south London. It was noted for its broad humour about sex and the consumption of alcohol. Pulling was first shown on BBC Three in 2006, then repeated on BBC Two in 2008. The six-episode series became a ‘sleeper hit’, which gained iconic status with fans and was lauded by critics. A second series of six episodes ran March–April 2008 on BBC Three.
Despite good ratings and critical plaudits, Pulling was cancelled after two series, although an hour-long final episode was broadcast in May 2009. In 2007, the show was nominated for a British Academy Television Award and Horgan was nominated for a British Comedy Award. In 2008 she won a British Comedy Award for Pulling. In 2009, she was nominated for a British Academy Television Award and the show won a British Comedy Award.
In 2007, Horgan wrote Angelo’s directed by Chloe Thomas. Horgan starred as Karen, a police officer. The sitcom was set in a café near Trafalgar Square in London. It ran for one series on Channel 5.
In June 2012, Horgan starred in Dead Boss, a sitcom set in a prison, which she wrote with comic Holly Walsh. In it she played Helen, a woman wrongly imprisoned for killing her boss, and starred Jennifer Saunders. It was well received by critics and ran for one six-part series on BBC Three in June–July 2012. In 2013, Horgan starred in and co-wrote Bad Management with Holly Walsh, their second project together, and Horgan was the self-centred and demanding boss of an upmarket store in Los Angeles. ABC commissioned the pilot episode, which was not aired. But it was released online in December 2013.
In January 2015, she co-starred and co-wrote the sitcom Catastrophe with American comic Rob Delaney. The two first met on Twitter, and because they made each other laugh decided to work together. They have both said Catastrophe was broadly based on their own personal experiences. In it she played Sharon, an Irishwoman living in London who falls pregnant by Rob, an American she met while he was on a business trip to London. Carrie Fisher played his mother. It was an instant critical success and after the second episode of the six-part series was aired Channel 4 announced it had commissioned a second series. Horgan was nominated for a Best Female Comedy Performance BAFTA for her role. in 2016, Channel 4, ordered a third and fourth season.
Horgan has written Divorce, a US comedy series starring Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays a New York woman going through a lengthy divorce. In April 2015, HBO announced it had picked up the series after the pilot episode, and the show is Parker’s first major acting commitment since Sex and the City. She is also an executive producer.
In December 2012, Horgan made her directorial debut with the semi-autobiographical film The Week Before Christmas, which was broadcast as part of the Little Crackers series of short films on Sky 1. It was set on a turkey farm in Ireland, and in it she played her own mother, while her father was played by actor Conleth Hill. In September 2013, it was announced that Horgan was attached to the film Meet Me in Ten Years, a futuristic comedy written by Frances Poletti.
In February 2005, Horgan co-presented the first series of The Friday Night Project (later The Sunday Night Project), a comedy variety show on Channel 4. Her co-presenters in the eight-week series were Jimmy Carr, Rob Rouse, and Lucy Montgomery. On 3 June 2011, Horgan was the guest host of Have I Got News for You on BBC1. A scripted joke about Mecca and suicide bombers brought some complaints from Muslims; Horgan defended the show as “political satire”, but apologised for any offence caused.
Horgan has presented a series of documentaries for Channel 4. In January 2012, in How to Be a Good Mother she talked to several families about their approach to child-rearing. In January 2013 in Secrets of a Good Marriage she discovered how various couples make their relationships work; and in On the Verge of a Midlife Crisis, she spoke to six women who had coped with the experience.
Merman (production company)
In 2014, Horgan established Merman, an independent production company, with Clelia Mountford, who produced A Young Doctor’s Notebook, Mr. Sloane, and Cockroaches. Horgan is creative director of Merman and Mountford managing director. The two women met while working on The Week Before Christmas. Horgan’s husband, Jeremy Rainbird, also works for the company. Merman is co-producing Divorce, an American comedy series starring Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays a New York woman going through a lengthy divorce. In April 2015, HBO announced it had picked up the series after the pilot episode. Horgan has also written the series. Shooting begins in New York in late 2015. She is developing U.S. versions of Pulling and Dead Boss for Merman.
In October 2014, IFC announced that Merman is producing the third series of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, which will be aired in late 2015. Merman also co-produces Catastrophe.
Awards and nominations
- 2001 — BBC New Comedy Award for Sketch Writing and Performance (won)
- 2007 — British Academy Television Award for Best Situation Comedy — Pulling (nominated)
- 2007 — British Comedy Award for Best Female Newcomer — Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive/Pulling (nominated)
- 2008 — British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actress — Pulling (won)
- 2009 — British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Drama — Pulling: Special (won)
- 2009 — British Academy Television Award for Best Comedy Performance — Pulling (nominated)
- 2013 — International 3D Award for International Jury Prize — The Week Before Christmas (won)
- 2015 — TV Choice Award for Best Comedy — Catastrophe (nominated)
- 2015 — Edinburgh Television Award for Best New Programme — Catastrophe (nominated)
- 2016 — British Academy Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance — “Catastrophe” (nominated)
- 2018 — British Academy Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance — “Catastrophe” (nominated)
- 2018 — British Academy Television Award for Best Scripted Comedy — “Catastrophe” (nominated)
- 2018 — British Academy Television Award for Best Short Form Programme — “Morgana Robinson’s Summer” (won)
- 2018 — BAFTA TV Craft Award for Best Writer: Comedy — “Catastrophe” (nominated)
Horgan’s younger brother Shane is a former international rugby union player who played wing or centre for Leinster and Ireland, and is now a rugby analyst for RTÉ Sports. Her other younger brother, Mark Horgan, is a producer for Second Captains, a multi-platform media production company. She is also a second cousin of Jockey Leighton Aspell and his brother Paddy.