The creator of the hit BBC romcom talks about having less than a day to enjoy its triumph – and how extreme nerd-dom got her through 2021
Rose Matafeo is arguably the breakout star of 2021. Her BBC Three sitcom Starstruck became the channel’s best-performing comedy within weeks of launch, racking up 3m views and earning a second series before it even premiered. The impact was so huge and immediate that you could be forgiven for thinking she had dropped from the sky fully formed.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. After winning a New Zealand international comedy festival award for standup in 2007, at the age of 15, Matafeo has conquered just about everything she has ever attempted. She has written for Daily Show-esque satirical news programmes. She has presented entertainment shows. She co-created and starred in a sketch series, and has directed sitcoms. In 2018, her show Horndog – detailing, in part, how she was kicked off a Franz Ferdinand messageboard for being “too racy” – won an Edinburgh comedy award. And last year she was the lead in the film Baby Done, executive produced by Taika Waititi.
And yet, even for those of us who knew her work, Starstruck was the perfect showcase for all of Matafeo’s talents. Despite a premise that wasn’t entirely novel – like Notting Hill before it, it told the story of a civilian who accidentally fell in love with a movie star – Matafeo’s presence helped to reset and update a number of hoary old romcom tropes. Equal parts confident and anxious, for a few weeks in April, she was more or less all anyone could talk about. She’s a big deal now. She is also exhausted.