A new drama from Kay Mellor – words I’m fond of hearing! Starring Miranda Richardson, Phyllis Logan and Zoe Wanamaker? Interest piqued, I’ve grown up watching all three and I feel that they each have extraordinary qualities as actors. Also starring Matthew Lewis from Harry Potter, well had there been any doubt of my not giving an hour to this brand new piece of writing, it was most certainly snubbed out following this piece of information!
Establishing the characters and a brief quota of back-story within an hour long slot is not an easy feat, however this is Kay Mellor we’re talking about and I was impressed with how easily drawn in to the story I was from the start. It was predictable in places with a few surprises to counter-balance. One vital fact I retain from previous Kay Mellor dramas is that nothing is ever as it seems.
Phyllis Logan is shrugging off her 1920’s Housekeeper persona in the role of Linda Hutchinson, widowed (seemingly, I won’t spoil it) with two children who work on board a Cruise Ship. Financial worry and questions raised from Micky’s death appear to be at the centre of the character’s life and there’s nobody better than Logan to portray such a role believably and sensitively. Zoe Wanamaker as a Lollipop Lady isn’t something you see every day and she has a markedly different role to play in Gail who lives a life of drudgery. She has a jailbird son – played by Matthew Lewis (you might have to look twice, he looks nothing like the Neville of old from the early Harry Potter movies) and her mum is also a responsibility, plus throw into the mix that she’s newly divorced. I tend to associate Zoe Wanamaker with infinitely more glamourous parts, so this programme provides a refreshing change from that point of view – no type casting here. Completing the picture is Miranda Richardson and as expected, she gives a flawless performance as Sue and stood out for all of the right reasons. Upon second viewing on ITV+1 (the truth’s out, I gave another hour of my life to the show straight away), Sue’s storyline dominated the episode. Her long-term relationship with the boss is going down the pan, her job is also changing and she has a revelation coming up in the form of her son’s sexual preferences. Wendy Craig in the role of her mother, who announces her engagement to a ‘toy boy’, is genius casting and there’ll be plenty more to explore there, too.
In episode one, Mellor has set the scene for potential hurt, heartbreak, disasters, all on top of what’s already gone before. In true Mellor style she’s left me wanting more, asking questions and predicting the series finale already. 2018 on ITV has gotten off to a terrific start, long may it continue and I pray there’ll be more fantastic roles for actresses in the age 50+ casting bracket from exceptionally talented writers in the future. This series ought to pave the way for such opportunities, hopefully!