John Pocock, producer of Working Title Television’s We Are Lady Parts, explains the process of bringing Nida Manzoor’s hit comedy back for a bigger, better second season.


We Are Lady Parts has been the highlight of my career as a producer so far. I can honestly say I loved (almost) every moment of working on the series. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had its challenges, and there were times where I thought “how are we going to get this show made”!   Like all productions there is never enough time or money but what we did have was a fantastic cast and crew, and, in writer/director, Nida Manzoor, an amazing collaborator and leader.

Nida is a director that is very clear in her vision and has the unique ability to be able to share this vision and make everyone feel part of it. So many of our crew returned for series two  – many of whom also worked on Nida’s debut feature film Polite Society.

“Good vibes” are something that can sound a bit whimsical, but I feel they are crucial to the successful running of our production.  Myself, Nida and the executive producer Surian Fletcher-Jones from Working Title Television, wanted to create an environment that felt inclusive and collaborative.

Too often sets are run in a very old fashioned and dogmatic system and we didn’t want that.     The set is a creative space where – especially in comedy – you need your actors to be able to play, be relaxed and feel empowered.  Comedy is so much about timing and too much stress on set can ruin this. This is also vital for crew as they spend so much on their working day on set or in a studio that making sure the people feel comfortable and lines of communication are open, and collaborative is key.

That’s not to say we don’t have systems and processes in place, we do, but it was important for us that that crew felt heard throughout.  Productions can be very demanding, and there were many passionate and creative discussions our goal was to ensure that no one ever felt undermined or excluded.

The main discussion when starting early pre-production on series two was that Nida didn’t want to re-tread similar storylines to series one; We Are Lady Parts isn’t a classic sitcom where there is a story of the week and characters “reset” at the end of each episode. She wanted the characters to go on a journey and push their storylines further. Where series one focuses to Amina (Anjana Vasan) and Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey) story, series two was to focus on all five lead characters.

In our press release for series two, Nida said that she wanted to go “bolder” and “sillier.” “Bolder”, meant having many more locations (series one was shot during the pandemic so filming on location was very limited), we didn’t want the series to feel like we were stuck inside all the time.  Our Location Manager, George Couch had quite a job on his hands – finding numerous music venues, slick record label offices and a beautiful seaside mansion to name a few.  In total we had approximately between 60–70 locations spread across the eight weeks shoot!  We filmed in many of the music venues that Nida frequented as a teenager, including The Garage in Highbury and The Moth Club in Hackney.  We also wanted to build the recording studio that Lady Parts record their first album in.  We did look for a location for this but it’s so tricky and expensive to film in a real recording studio, especially one that can hold a crew of 50. Amy Maguire, our Designer on series two really went to town on this set build – this is where we wanted to invest as the characters spend so much time here and in terms of story it’s where the “legendary producer, Dirty Mahmood” is, so it needed feel like a special place, a place to aspire to. Amy researched old retro recording equipment and then had it all installed in the set – she told me it worked… I’m not sure it did but it certainly lit up like it did!

“Sillier” meant more gags, more laughs and more surreal moments – a chance for the cast to really work their funny bones.  In episode one Amina goes to a folk night with Ashan (Zaqi Ismail) and meets the hipster white boy Billy (Jack Riddiford). The scene – filmed at the iconic Moth Club is a masterclass in comedy. Every single look, camera angle, sound effect is done with full comedic precision – I could watch that scene on repeat!

I always knew we could do so much more in series two; I knew the “second album” was going to be glorious! During the gap between series one and two I had produced Nida’s debut feature, Polite Society, and that experience gave me the confidence to embrace some of Nida’s more ambitious ideas and helped me bring them to life.  For example, in episode five Nida wanted Saira (Sara Kameela Impey) to do a stunt on wires. I said, “Yes! Bring it on, let’s do it!!” – it felt like the story needed it and having done wire work on the film I knew what was possible. That said, we naturally had to be more resourceful for the TV version, but it was just as effective.

The shoot was approximately eight weeks with a one week break halfway through so that the cast could have some time to learn how to play the songs. We wanted the band to feel punk, which is hard unless you genuinely are punk. So, all four members of the band really did learn how to play the instruments for real. This takes a lot of rehearsal time as many of them don’t play musical instruments at all – it’s only Anjana that can play the guitar in real life.  The other cast members go through an intense period of learning the instruments and songs so that on set, they are singing and playing for real! Of course, we do help in the post-production process with session musicians but on set it’s all them, which is remarkable.

This show was made with so much love and passion, everyone involved brought their absolute best every step of the way. Working with Nida is a pure joy and I hope I’m lucky enough to work with her for a long time to come.

We do this for the love of the work, but it’s always extra special to see the incredible acclaim We Are Lady Parts has received since its launch. Fans around the world have embraced this series in a way that none of us could have imagined – that’s why we made this powerful little show.

Production company: Working Title Television

Studio: Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group

Jon Creamer

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