After a really encouraging first episode of the new comedy drama Brief Encounters last week, I was therefore intrigued to see how this was going to be followed up in part two. Set in the location of Sheffield(South Yorkshire, England) during the financially hard-up times of the 1980s in Britain, this tells the tale of the lives of four women as they embark upon being Anne Summers Party Plan saleswomen. ITV1 have a hit on their hands here because I thought episode two was pretty damn good too.
Pauline “Brian, I have been to the pub and I liked it”!
The star of episode one for me was actress Penelope Wilton who plays repressed housewife Pauline, she was the star performer yet again in episode two. To be fair though, I think the rest of the cast needs loudly applauding as well. You are half way there with a hit show if the acting is first class and it definitely is here. Sophie Rundle(who plays Stephanie) is a fantastic talent and I think ex Corrie’s Anglea Griffin shows just what an underrated actress she is too.
Episode two dealt with the fallout at what happened the end of episode one, namely Stephanie walking in and finding her husband Terry bonking with another woman on the sofa. This was then made worse for her as she then had to go and do an Ann Summers party at this woman’s house. Things got worse still for Steph after her childminder(Barry played by Kent Riley) lost her son at the cinema, coupled with then being later slapped across her face by her Mother who deemed her to be an unfit mum for doing the Anne Summers parties. Am I the only one by the way who rather than her being nasty, expects Stephanie’s Mum to say something funny when she speaks? The actress that plays Steph’s Mum is the brilliant Felicity Montagu, who played the marvelous downtrodden Lynn character in Alan Partridge years ago.
We learned more about the home life of the character Dawn(Sharon Rooney) and her chauvinist, useless Dad and brothers(barring the very young one). The comedy highlight in this second installment for me was when an appalled Brian(Peter Wright) walked into his bathroom and found Dawn shaving her legs and ‘pits’ with his best razor. It’s important that we saw not just a funny side to Dawn, otherwise the casting could have been rightly criticized for being too stereotypical, i.e she’s the ‘funny fat girl’, box ticked.
The ending was dramatic as we saw Brian knocked over(dead or not we’re not sure yet) by robbers fleeing the scene of their crime in a getaway car. The extra juicy bit here being that the driver of said car was Kieran(Don Gillet), namely Nita’s(Angela Griffin) fella. Upon him arriving back home all flustered, she then tells him that she has just decided that she wants to have their fourth child after all what with things now looking more financially secure for them….eek!
1980s nostalgia is key reason as to why this show is a success, or at least why it appeals to me so much. It was a notable decade where new fashions and music came across to Britain from America. This was coupled with a Thatcher government in the 80s that saw mass unemployment rise within many parts of the UK(especially in the north). You had affluent yuppies and entrepreneurs juxtaposed against great civil unrest and public disorder. It is a striking period of British history that sticks in the memory banks and makes for an interesting backdrop for a comedy drama such as this.
If I am being picky then I guess you could argue that the stuck-up woman(the one whose husband is a friend of Brian’s and who walked out of the Anne Summers party in episode one in disgust) is verging on a caricature, i.e bit over-the-top and too snobby to seem like a real person. Apart from this character though, I am finding it pretty hard to greatly fault Brief Encounters so far. The Anne Summers subject matter is an original one and so there is a refreshing quirky feel to the narrative.
All-in-all, so far this show has been a triumph for a ITV1………and .one that I never heard or saw coming either!