The Hobbit set to offer a positive role model to dads

Actor Martin Freeman talks about his new project and the challenges facing a new generation of fathers

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Martin Freeman is set to offer dads a new and realistic role model on TV.

The actor who has starred in The Hobbit, The Office and Nativity is believed to have started filming on a new project about parenthood.

He spoke about the new sitcom, called Breeders, on the most recent episode of Desert Island Discs and described the process of writing it with Simon Blackwell and Chris Addison as “like a men’s self help group”.

Blackwell is best known for writing Peep Show while Addison found fame as hapless political bag carrier Olly in The Thick of It.

The new programme apparently revolves around the shortcomings of a group of modern parents. The aim he said was “to let a lot of parents out of jail. If you’ve ever sworn at your kids it’s alright to have felt that, in fact it’s sort of obligatory.”


Focussing particularly on fatherhood he said, “It’s an interesting thing for men. A lot of us are trying to parent in a way for which we’ve had no example at all.

“Women have had a more steady example of what it is to be a mother, generally speaking, and we’re trying to catch up, with no blueprint at all, so guess what – we’re going to mess up sometimes.”

Where previously men were almost exclusively family breadwinners now they are generally more engaged in parenting. Campaigners have complained of a lack of decent role models for fathers on TV and in film to reflect this. For example in the hit detective drama Broadchurch the murderer turned out to be a stay at home dad. Perhaps the most famous working father in popular culture is Homer Simpson but his is not an example any real life dad would want to follow.

Freeman’s new project is expected to air on Sky in early 2020. He added, “We’re making a comedy programme not a public health broadcast. But it’s useful to be able to tell people it’s OK to shout at your children.”

Freeman recently split from his actress wife Amanda Abbington. The couple have two children aged 10 and 13. Asked what sort of a father he is by Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne he said, “A work in progress. I try my best.”

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