Tuesday saw the launch of a new BBC1 family drama called Age Before Beauty. Set in present day Manchester and written and created by Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield, it centred on a family run beauty salon called Mirrorbel. Notable actors in this family include Robson Green, Lisa Riley and The Royle Family’s Sue Johnston.
The narrative was quick and in your face from the get-go, but not in a bad way. With an unusual nonlinear narrative structure this gave the drama a fresh feel about it. It did enough to draw you in straight away and also via a series of narrative twists, managed to hold your attention for the full sixty minutes.
It was entertaining, funny and yet also had a slightly dark side to it as well. It contained all the things that a good quality drama should have. The cast featured an array of British stars and so with this came quality acting throughout. Bel Finch, for example, was played by the wonderful Polly Walker. She really was the glue so-to-speak, that held this first episode all together. Her performance was utterly convincing and very natural. A special mention must also go to the fantastic bitchy character Leanne Roxton, played by Kelly Harrison. Kelly played this over-the-top role so well and was the vehicle for much of the humour.
A storyline about infidelity might not be the most original one to feature in a drama, however it was how well it was written that gave it a new fresh impetus here. Not long into this first episode we saw Bel discover that her husband Wesley Finch(played by James Murray), had betrayed her with a much younger woman, personal trainer Lorelei Bailey(Madeleine Mantock). The twist about this affair is what made it interesting to watch.
The other main storyline involved Bel finding out that the beauty salon was in financial dire straits. As a result, this drew Bel back into managing it again and we saw Mirrorbel stage a dramatic relaunch.
Slightly reminiscent of Cold Feet on ITV1, if you love the city of Manchester then you will have warmed to this programme due to the repeated breakaway shots of the city’s landscape. I can’t explain it properly, but this great northern city just feels right to be the location for chirpy drama such as this.
Overall, a very encouraging first episode that fully warrants we watch episode two! 4/5.