In The Club, BBC1 - TV review: A warm new drama that could grow into something special
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 06 August 2014
It's been a while, so it must be time for another stab at recapturing the popularity of 1997-2003 drama Cold Feet. In The Club, a new six-part BBC1 drama from Kay Mellor, writer of The Syndicate and Fat Friends, seems to fit the bill.
It's a warm ensemble piece about the drama of ordinary lives and it even features Cold Feet star Hermione Norris as one of the six mothers-to-be who meet at a parentcraft class in Yorkshire.
In the Club is also a get-together for some favourite TV actresses. Alongside Norris, who plays a married women, pregnant at 46 with the child of her young artist lover, there's Katherine Parkinson as one half of a gay couple (perhaps using the same prosthetic belly she wears as Nessa Stein's sister-in-law Rachel in The Honourable Woman?)
There's ex-Corrie actress Jill Halfpenny as Diane, a woman whose joy at discovering she's expecting twins is tempered by her financial woes and Christine Bottomley as Vicky, their also pregnant midwife.
"Ordinary" people they may be, but Mellor had managed to pack a lot of extraordinary drama into this hour.
A 15-year-old in labour burst into their pre-natal class, her school uniform drenched in amniotic fluid, there was a car crash, infidelity and even a bank robbery.
Credit to Will Mellor (no relation) as Diane's partner Rick, for a performance that made that last incident just about believable. Yes, we're talking about the same Will Mellor who starred in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. It seems he's mysteriously picked up some real screen presence somewhere along the way.
Kay Mellor's plot is only of the usual soap opera secrets given a maternity twist and the dialogue can't help but invite unfavourable comparison with the work of Yorkshire's finest Sally Wainwright, but In the Club does have undeniable appeal.
That's what a cast crammed with familiar faces in likable roles can do.
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