There’s nothing very funny about a marriage in trouble, as thousands of couples can attest.
However a new comedy series which begins tonight on BBC2 is mining the wittier side of a struggling relationship.
It helps the couple in question are played by Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd, who are more used to starring in Hollywood blockbusters these days than a 10-part series split into 10-minute chunks like State Of The Union is.
Their chemistry is a key reason why the series – about a couple undergoing relationship therapy – works, according to Gone Girl star Rosamund.
“Chris was great to work with. We had a really nice, believably real, banter and he genuinely made me laugh and that was joyful,” she explained. “It was fun to make each other laugh.
“He talked about it right at the beginning that it’s often weird if you have a comedy and the characters are funny but they don’t ever find each other funny.
“So we sort of let that feeling come out.
“Then every night in the pub we’d finish work and Chris and I would sit outside in the garden of the pub that where we were filming and we’d have a glass of wine and go through the scripts for the next day.”
The quirky rehearsal method appealed to former IT Crowd star Chris, as it took him back to his student days.
“It was like Ros and I were learning a play every night, usually staying in the pub after we finished, getting through a bottle of wine while we were testing each other on the next day’s lines,” said Chris.
“It felt like being in drama school in a lot of ways where you go in relatively prepared but doing fourteen pages of dialogue every day is something that you just never encounter in a normal job.”
Being in the IT Crowd and Bridesmaids meant Chris’s comedy credentials weren’t in doubt – but Rosamund admitted he made her slightly nervous.
“I was really delighted when Chris said he would do it. I wasn’t sure whether he would take the role…I didn’t know whether he would think that my comedy credentials were kind of up to the mark.
“I thought he might feel a bit superior, but it turns out he didn’t or he managed to put any feelings like that to the side.
“I hoped because I was already cast, someone is going to say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to jump into this with her.’
“So I was really pleased because you know I’ve done comedic stuff but it’s not what I’m known for. This is obviously comedic but it’s got a level of truth and humanity to it as well.”
State Of The Union, BBC2, tonight, 10pm