Monday night saw the start of the new ITV drama Brief Encounters, and what fun it was!
I should have known really. I liked the look of the trailers the channel had been showing and then that curmudgeon in the Radio Times, Alison Graham, decided to give it a drubbing; if she doesn't like it, chances are it's worth a watch!
In many ways the opening episode reminded me a lot of '80s classic Making Out in that it depicts how Thatcher's Britain sent men to the dole queues, leaving their wives to take the initiative and enter the world of work, often for the first time, to help bring some money into the home. This is certainly reflected in the central character, Sophie Rundle's Steph; when her husband is laid off from the factory, this previously invisible girl spots an ad for hosting Ann Summers parties in the local newspaper and finds it ignites a spark of ambition and a confidence she never knew she had.
The period detail is lovingly recreated and spot on, there's a great early '80s soundtrack laid over the scenes, the comedy and charm is earthy and there's a real beating heart to this piece too. Also, it's blessed with the great Penelope Wilton, an actress whose comic timing is a joy to watch. She brings out the humour in lines that other actors simply would not find.
The first episode is available to watch on the ITV Player and the series continues at 9pm Monday night. It's recommended.