WHEN you’re elbow deep in dirty nappies as I seem to have been this past few years it’s often hard to see the funny side of parenting.

But whereas previous sitcoms have tended to concentrate on the teenage years for laughs (think 2.4 Children/Outnumbered), new BBC sitcom Motherland delves into the murky world of toddlers and infants, and pulls off a superb and darkly funny take on a time when exhaustion, stress and work/life balance reduce many of us to gibbering wrecks.

A quick look at the names behind Motherland is assurance enough that the laughs will come thick and fast (much like the contents of those nappies).

Graham Linehan is most noted for writing Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd and together with Catastrophe creator Sharon Horgan and Linehan’s wife Helen, the sister of actor Peter Serafinowicz, they’ve made something special with Motherland.

The comedy centres on Anna Maxwell-Martin as Julia, an overstressed working mother, trying to juggle the demands of her children, her husband and her job.

A summary of the episode titles gives a good idea of the horrors that await Julia - Birthday Party, School Fundraiser and Pool Party, are the first three and each will surely make every parent of primary school-age kids groan with recognition.

Martin is superb in the lead role but it’s her support network who really shine.

Diane Morgan (better known as Philomena Cunk from Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe) plays Julia’s friend Liz who’s way of coping with parenting is to slug a gulp of wine and get on with it with the help of Poundland and lots of putdowns.

Paul Ready plays stay-at-home dad Kevin, who’s attempts to be the perfect father usually end in embarrassment and shame.

Lucy Punch is annoyingly hilarious as Amanada, the yummy mummy leader of the ‘Alpha-Mums’.

Every 30-something making their way through the obstacle course of school-age children will recognise the pushy parents, snotty children, careerist teachers and the judgemental in-laws.

And if you’ve never been to a pool party, you’ll be put off for life.