Speaking to Georgia Pritchett, it’s hard to believe that this warm, self-contained woman could be one of the minds behind the narcissistic and legitimate family at the heart of hit HBO’s Succession. When I put this to her, she laughs and tells me that “from some quarters” there was doubt as to whether a “small, unkempt, chaotic group of British writers” could create this “big, brilliant American drama”. The show, currently in its third series, reveals the machinations of aging media magnate Logan Roy – who is said to have been inspired by both Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump – and his devious children fighting to succeed him. Given that the show has garnered Emmys and near-universal acclaim from critics, it seems that Pritchett and her fellow writers did it.
Pritchett was born in London in 1968 and had a creative, semi-Bohemian upbringing. Having such a distinguished cultural background – her grandfather was the writer VS Pritchett and her brother the Telegraph cartoonist Matt – she may have an inkling of the pressures of inheriting the family profession. Alongside Succession’s showrunner Jesse Armstrong, Pritchett has worked on the political satires The Thick of It and Veep. Her favorite character from Succession, the youngest son Roman Roy, is a “dirty little elf,” she says, whose sublime vulgarity rivals that of the spin doctor Malcolm Tucker. “I’ve written for a couple of fucking shows now – I’ve built my career around just saying shit. But I think what we were trying to do – if this isn’t too grandiose to describe swearing – is very creative and has almost baroque swearing …
Pritchett wrote some of the funniest scenes of Succession – including Logan’s son-in-law, Tom, throwing water bottles at his subordinate Greg while locked in a safe room. Your goal is to humanize the characters just enough to captivate the audience. “I’m a bit narrow-minded,” she says. “I think Jesse is very good at keeping us on point and not becoming a dirty version of Friends, which I would probably do if I were in charge.”
The writers meet daily for four months, planning to the minute what will happen before the two of them break up to write each individual episode. She mentions two maxims that are pinned to the wall of the authors: “One can never escape the family” and “The family poisons one another and poisons the world”.
While Pritchett is part of such a successful project, I am not entirely comfortable in the spotlight. Having been forced to struggle for recognition as a woman throughout her career – her early jokes for the Radio 4 comedy show Week Ending were mistakenly attributed to a George Pritchett – she may find it surreal to get so much now. She hates dressing up to attend an awards show – something she protests only happens because she is “lucky enough to have stood around someone as smart as Jesse while she is.” have done something brilliant ”. But she doesn’t just stand next to someone who is smart. The Apple TV comedy The Shrink Next Door is currently running the show running show. Pritchett quietly changes the landscape of television writing, one insulting insult after another.