Screened just once by the BBC in the summer of 2000, Border Cafe was writer Tim Firth's follow up to his '90s cult favourite (All Quiet On The) Preston Front. It starred Elizabeth Carling, Sean Gallagher, Georgia Mackenzie and Anthony Strachan and was set in the titular American-style diner which resided in a fictional northern town located on the border between England and Wales.
Carling starred as rock star Charlotte Smith who, at the height of her fame, quits everything to buy a diner on the outskirts of the town she grew up in. There, she settles down with her builder boyfriend David Doyle (Gallagher) and employs David's daft elder brother Kidder as the diner's chef. Along the way, the trio employ a waitress called Ronnie (Mackenzie) who has been 'playing' Charlotte in a copycat band. All walks of life converse upon the Border Cafe and, as it takes off, the notion of whose life depends on whose starts to shift with dramatic consequences.
Firth himself describes the inspirations of Border Cafe as being an attempt to write a setting not always familiar to British TV screens - pubs had always been done, but a cafe and its inherent mix of European and American cultures itself presented something of a border to hook the series upon. It's strange how cafe based programmes don't seem to catch on here; Angelo's, Pilgrim's Rest and The Cafe were all shortlived. Firth also sought inspiration from the news at the time and how Robbie Williams decision to leave Take That in the '90s had, unwittingly, led to making Robbie imitators redundant from several Take That copycat bands. From there he developed the idea of his own copycat (Ronnie) going off in search of the cat (Charlotte) and crossing a personal border in this decision; escaping the person you were for the person you never thought you could be. Free from her copying, Ronnie grows into an affirming, beacon of light for all around her as she finally becomes her true self.