GSFF’23 – Comedy Pilot ‘Stunners’ Is Packed With Charm, Heart And Plenty Of Filthy Laughs

BBC Scotland

Sarah Grant and Katrina Allen will save comedy on this hellish island. Stunners is a soothing balm to antidote much of the middle-class, privately-educated and Southeast England-centric TV comedy being circulated around the UK.

Commissioned as a pilot by BBC Scotland (clearly the more fun younger sibling of Britain’s broadcasting giant), the 14-minute short played in Glasgow Short Film Festival’s ‘Cafe Flicker presents…’ strand to rapturous support, applause and uncontrollable laughter. Having seen the pair at multiple iterations of the Women X Film Festival in the northeast, I was already aware of their immense talent, but to see support for them on their home turf was something special. Penned and performed by Grant and Allen with some support from Lorn Macdonald (Beats), Lynne McCallum (Still Game), and Lois Chimimba (The One) and directed by Niamh McKeown, Stunners is unabashedly working-class, Scottish, millennial and absolute, utter filth.

Best friends and thirty-somethings Ruby (Sarah Grant) and Lola (Katrina Allen) are, to put it lightly, ‘fuck ups.’ They are two single grown adults living together, their jobs are never mentioned, no partners, no kids, have sexual mishaps every weekend, and poor Ruby’s got a condom stuck inside herself that she only trusts to be retrieved by her best friend, Lola. With Lola’s arm deep up Ruby’s skirt, she receives a call from her old school friends asking to relocate the hen party she was supposed to be attending that afternoon to Ruby and Lola’s garden after the venue lets the hens down.

Faced with putting on a show for some stuffy old friends she has nothing in common with anymore, this pilot episode sees Lola and Ruby do their juvenile best to prepare for a trashy, shoe-string budget garden hen party using Ruby’s underwear for bunting and their neighbour Sam (Lorn Macdonald) as a tragic stripper. From physical gags of genitalia costumes and arrays of ‘tools’ to fish out the missing condom to the quick-witted banter of two best pals, Stunners makes every attempt to hit the joke, and it lands perfectly every time. Rarely do we get to see women being so openly gross and filthy, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment.

Ruby and Lola’s efforts come much to the dismay of the maid of honour, Emma (Lois Chimimba), who quickly becomes the embodiment of every person a struggling millennial has encountered that makes them feel not good enough. Not good enough for their work, relationship, living, friends or sexual choices. The person that always feels ahead of you at every major life step and the difficult grapple with keeping old friends around that no longer serve you, purely out of nostalgia or trying to feel connected to your roots. As much as this was a riotous ball of laughs, I can’t deny the tears and small mental breakdown that I had as Lola addressed the issues her old school friends brought up in her.

What sets Stunners apart from other comedies of a similar nature is the comfort that Ruby and Lola feel in being ‘fuck ups’ and that their friendship (at least in this pilot) is always stronger than whatever life can throw at them. It’s body-positive, sex-positive, feminist, supportive and open in the discussions we’re allowed to spy in on; these are the two best friends you’ll wish you always had. Stunners is a laugh-a-minute, punchy comedy full of Scottish charm, and I will be on the doorstep of BBC Scotland begging for a full series commission in the near future.

Stunners played at the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2023. It is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.

by Chloe Leeson

Chloë (she/her) is the founder of SQ. She works as a teacher in the GLAM sector and freelances as a costume designer and maker living in the North East of England. She thrives watching 90s Harmony Korine Letterman interviews and bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Green Room and Pan’s Labyrinth. Find her on Letterboxd here.

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