From Marge Simpson to Susan Kennedy: TV’s best mums!

The small screen boasts some magnificent mums. They are loving, loyal and always there to listen. They lay on excellent dinners and even better cuddles. So, to mark Mother’s Day, we’ve taken time out from our chores and homework (they gave us permission, honest) to select our top 12 TV mums. Apologies to my own mum. If you’re reading this, Valerie, I only left you out because you’re not on telly (although you should be). Anyway, boil the kettle and put the best china out for our Mother’s Day dozen. And feel free to tell us your own below …

Marge Simpson (The Simpsons)

Who wouldn’t want to be her “special little guy” like Bart? Marjorie Jacqueline Simpson (née Bouvier) is the blue-beehived, raspy-voiced glue holding the world’s most recognisable family together. Miraculously, she hasn’t aged a day in 35 years. She doesn’t hate you for failing, she loves you for trying. Oh, Homey.

Best mates and hugs … Single mom Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) in a Gilmore Girls episode from 2000.
Best mates and hugs … Single mom Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) in a Gilmore Girls episode from 2000. Photograph: Warner Bros. Tv/Allstar

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

Owns a shaggy dog named Paul Anka! Runs an inn! Rarely stops eating! Behold, the mum we all secretly wish we had. After getting pregnant with her daughter, Rory, at 16, single mom ; (Lauren Graham) cannily moved to Stars Hollow, Connecticut, a cosy community ideal for raising a child alone. All sharp quips, film quotes and tough love, the us-against-the-world duo have a best mate bond that’s the envy of mothers-and-daughters everywhere. Pour a cup of coffee, talk a mile a minute and come here for a hug.

Lorraine Waldron (Normal People)

Forget Connell’s silver chain. His single “mam” was the real cult star of the hit Sally Rooney adaptation. Played by Sarah Greene (not that one), she called him out over ghosting Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) at school and supported the class-divided, tongue-tied lovers throughout their on/off romance. She’s firm, she’s fair, she’s got great hair and, as Edgar-Jones tweeted: “We all need a Lorraine in our lives.”

Fags and family … Barbara (Sue Johnston) and teenager Antony (Ralf Little) in The Royle Family, 1999.
Fags and family … Barbara (Sue Johnston) and teenager Antony (Ralf Little) in The Royle Family, 1999. Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

Barbara Royle (The Royle Family)

Patriarchy, my arse. It’s Sue Johnston’s caring soul that’s the linchpin of the Mancunian couch potato clan. She waits hand-and-foot on her flatulent, misanthropic husband Jim, bone-idle daughter Denise, gawky son Antony and elderly mother Norma, aka “Nanna”. But “Barb” rarely minds because she’s all about family. Oh and fags. Fancy a brew?

Joyce Byers (Stranger Things)

There’s almost nothing this plaid-wearing mum won’t do for her son. She communicates via Christmas fairy lights, she faces down evil scientists and Russian spies, and, in the name of Will, her missing child, she happily ventures into a hellscape parallel dimension to fight a Demogorgon. Also, crucially, she’s Winona, actual, Ryder.

from left: Meg (Tanya Moodie) and Liz (Diane Morgan) are Motherland’s sharp, fun mums – more appealing than nervy Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin).
from left: Meg (Tanya Moodie) and Liz (Diane Morgan) are Motherland’s sharp, fun mums – more appealing than nervy Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin). Photograph: Colin Hutton/BBC/Merman

Liz and Meg (Motherland)

While the school-gates sitcom’s try-hard middle-class mums are in perma-panicked pursuit of perfection, neither shrugging single parent Liz (Diane Morgan) nor high-flying exec Meg (Tanya Moodie) seem to give a flying Sarah & Duck. Their laid-back parenting style is way more appealing than that of nerve-jangled Julia, smug Amanda or token dad Kevin. Liz is all about sarcasm, self-medicating and savvy shortcuts. Meg swishes stylishly around by day, then blows off steam by night. They are the sharp, fun kind of mum, who would just get better the older you got – when you could have a pub trip with this pair bitching about the rest of the parents.

Carm mellow … Carmela and Tony Soprano in season one of The Sopranos, 1999.
Carm mellow … Carmela and Tony Soprano in season one of The Sopranos, 1999. Photograph: Hbo/Allstar

Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos)

Sure, Edie Falco’s high-maintenance mafia wife had the odd platonic affair and a ferocious temper. But, who wouldn’t want 24/7 access to a vast double-fronted fridge stuffed with baked pasta, cannolis, tiramisu, Italian cold cuts and San Pellegrino? No wonder Father Phil “had a jones for” Carm’s baked ziti.

Pigs might fly … Mummy Pig – porcine protector, with George Pig, Daddy Pig in an episode of Peppa Pig, 2016.
Pigs might fly … Mummy Pig – porcine protector, with George Pig, Daddy Pig in an episode of Peppa Pig, 2016. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

Mummy Pig (Peppa Pig)

The porcine matriarch deserves a damehood for putting up with hapless chump Daddy Pig. Voiced by Morwenna Banks, the endlessly patient oinker juggles parenting duties with an unspecified job which involves hammering away at a computer keyboard. She somehow also finds time to volunteer for the mummies’ fire service. Guess who starts most of the fires she puts out? Yes, her hopeless ham husband. Let’s hope there’s soon an entire episode of her jumping in muddy puddles to celebrate a divorce.

Susan Kennedy (Neighbours)

Soothing Kennedy, more like. The former Erinsborough High principal, played by Jackie Woodburne, is the longest-running female character in Neighbours history for a reason – everyone loves her. She has survived amnesia, MS, dodgy haircuts and her husband Karl’s infidelity – and been mother hen to all of Ramsay Street throughout. Strewth, darl, we’ll miss her when the Aussie soap ends this summer. Rack off, TV execs, you dags.

Alex (Margaret Qualley) and Paula (Andie MacDowell) real-life mother and daughter who played those roles in Maid, 2021
Alex (Margaret Qualley) and Paula (Andie MacDowell) real-life mother and daughter who played those roles in Maid, 2021 Photograph: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix/The Hollywood Archive/Avalon

Alex Russell (Maid)

Last year’s word-of-mouth Netflix gem followed the struggles of scrabbling writer Alex (Margaret Qualley) as she left her abusive boyfriend, moved into a shelter with two-year-old daughter Maddy and got a job cleaning houses near Seattle. Amid the demoralising poverty and deeply flawed characters, utter devotion to adorable toddler Maddy shone through. Bonus points for Qualley’s real-life mother Andie MacDowell playing her screen mother. It’s a maternal full house.

Mother dear … RuPaul Charles, known and loved by drag queens all over the world as Mama Ru.
Mother dear … RuPaul Charles, known and loved by drag queens all over the world as Mama Ru. Photograph: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race)

Call her mother. The grande dame of drag might not be your regular parent but Mama Ru has mentored hundreds of queens to stardom. Can I get an amen up in here?

Go Joyce … mom and surrogate mom to the gang in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Go Joyce … mom and surrogate mom to the gang in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Photograph: Handout

Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“Get the hell away from my daughter,” she told Spike, wielding an axe and ready to use it. “Nobody lays a hand on my little girl.” Go, Joyce. Played by Kristine Sutherland, Buffy’s art gallery manager mum took all the Hellmouth stuff in her pant-suited stride. She became surrogate mother to the entire Scooby gang, so her death from a brain tumour in season five broke their hearts, not to mention ours. When Xander and Dawn later had a daughter, they named her Joyce. Stop it, you’ll set me off again.

The ones who nearly made the cut

The Oxo mum (Lynda Bellingham in the Oxo ads), Pam Shipman (Gavin and Stacey), Sophia Petrillo (The Golden Girls), Peggy Mitchell (EastEnders), Clair Huxtable (The Cosby Show), Jackie Goodman (Friday Night Dinner)

Which TV mums have we unforgivably missed? Let us know below. But take your coat off first or you won’t feel the benefit.