Rose Matafeo exclusive: the creator of Starstruck on the return of her brilliant millennial romcom

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Sophie Goddard
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Nikesh Patel and Rose Matafeo in Starstruck on BBC Three

Over five million people watched series one of Rose Matafeo’s modern romcom Starstruck. As she appears on the cover of this week’s Stylist, Rose Matafeo talks success, home and the power of not having a back-up plan.

If you’re not already familiar with Rose Matafeo and her whip-smart brand of comedy from shows like Horndog, Have I Got News For You, or the film Baby, Done, steel yourself because you’re very much about to be. Series two of  Starstruckher hilarious romcom-inspired show that reflects modern dating in glorious messy technicolour is back, after becoming the object of our affection last spring.  And Rose appears on the cover of this week’s Stylist, which you can download here, to discuss making the hit show and why she doesn’t find herself funny. 

The show, that Auckland-born Matafeo co-wrote with good friend writer Alice Snedden, sees Rose’s character, Jessie, meet famous actor Tom (Nikesh Patel) in a nightclub toilet, with the pair accidentally embarking on a Notting Hill-esque relationship (but in 2022, and much funnier).

Series two picks up moments after the cliffhanger of the first series, on the top deck of a bus, after Jessie has decided not to move back to New Zealand as planned and see what might happen if she gives a relationship with Tom a go. With the charm, wit and – dare we say – authenticity that we loved in series one, it brilliantly explores what really happens after you’ve met ‘The One’ and we see Jessie grapple with the reality of dating someone properly famous, commitment issues, unemployment and an ex who can’t keep away.

Nikesh Patel and Rose Matafeo in Starstruck on BBC Three
Nikesh Patel and Rose Matafeo in Starstruck on BBC Three

As well as being watched a record 5 million times on BBC iPlayer, making it the channel’s biggest new comedy of 2021, Starstruck also launched to great success in America too – something she found particularly pleasing. “It [Starstruck] going out in the US means a lot more people now hopefully know New Zealand exists,” she points out. “Although a lot of them don’t know I’m actually from New Zealand. They think I’m British, which is bizarre really; they can’t figure out my accent…”

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While Matafeo has only been in the UK six years (her accent, we can confirm, is still 100% Kiwi) she’s happy dividing herself across two hemispheres – which is definitely the UK’s gain. “New Zealand is one of the most incredible - if not the most incredible - countries in the world. It’s very hard to come from an island paradise and move to a country where I’m grey; I’m literally a grey person now,” she says, with a laugh. “But I’ve created a home here, and friends, and a life. So I have homes in two countries now, I’m really lucky.”

Starting out on the comedy circuit at just 15, Matafeo, who in 2018 won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show has always had a strong grasp of what might lie ahead, she says. “I didn’t necessarily think stand-up was the [specific] thing I’d do but I definitely thought ‘Oh hell yeah, I’m interested in that and think I could do it’. I liked writing and acting, but I always wanted to direct. I think comedy offered an opportunity to make something fast, by myself – it was quite self-sufficient. You could just write or say a thing on stage and didn’t have to wait for anyone to act it out. I didn’t have a backup option.”

Starstruck's Rose Matafeo in Stylist magazine
Starstruck's Rose Matafeo in Stylist magazine

To read Rose Matafeo’s interview, download this week’s issue of Stylist here

Images: BBC, Avalon UK, Shamil Tanna