I love British television drama. So we've seen a bumper crop of really excellent home-grown productions recently and the sort of shows that you want to tune into week after week and keep you guessing what is going to happen next with the characters and storylines. One of these series was called "In The Club" which is yet another excellent show written and created by Kay Mellor who always seems to come up with brilliant ideas. It's set around a group of women and their partners who are pregnant and each week we see the trials and tribulations of their lives leading up to the birth of their babies in the same hospital's maternity ward. Another Kay Mellor-scripted series is "The Syndicate." I haven't seen any of the earlier series of this series, which tells of the different groups of characters who's lives are changed with lottery wins. This one features Lenny Henry who seems to be making a career change from comedy to more serious acting roles. Yorkshire seems to be the location of a whole range of dramas (including the previously-mentioned "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.") Over the years we've had "Heartbeat", "Last of The Summer Wine" and of course the Granada Television series of "Brideshead Revisited" which was filmed there, particularly the central location at Castle Howard. I suppose it does provide a very wide range of locations. Scarborough in particular is used a great deal and features in the new series of "The Syndicate." "Downton Abbey" is supposed to be set there, but is actually filmed at Highclere Castle in the south of England. The locations for the fictional Downton village is filmed in the Oxfordshire village of Bamford. We began watching "Downton Abbey" when it was originally shown but gave up because it had so many commercials in it that it was ruining our enjoyment of the show. I realise it's the advertising which pays for commercial television, but having ads every ten minutes or so for sofas and stupid car insurance really drove us mad at one point. So it was fortunate that we can currently watch this series from the first episode through download from Sky and watch without the interruption of the confounded adverts. I suppose as regards earning money from advertising this isn't such a good idea for I.T.V., but from the perspective of the viewer who has to endure the adverts which breaks up the shows it's a godsend.
We are enjoying 'Downton Abbey.' I have to say, though, that the stories revolving around the 'downstairs' characters are far more interesting than those of the 'upstairs' characters. The Hugh Bonneville character is somewhat wooden. Although it's supposed to be set in Yorkshire, there is absolutely no feeling at all that it's set anywhere in particular. Some of the characters mention places in Yorkshire, but you don't see anything at all that might suggest 'Yorkshire,' nothing of the scenery of landscape. They have used that village in Oxfordshire which I have mentioned earlier supposedly because it has houses that are made of a similar stone to that you find used in buildings in Yorkshire, but I don't get any feeling of 'Yorkshire.' The best character is that played by Dame Maggie Smith who seems to get all the best lines and a lot of the humour revolves around her character. We visited a National Trust property recently, Basildon Park, which is used for a lot of the interiors in 'Downton Abbey' and it seems that another National Property, Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury, is used for the interiors of another of the fictional houses in the series.
Another drama series which we have enjoyed considerably has been "Last Tango In Halifax.' Again, it's set in Yorkshire. In fact we have had holidays in this part of Yorkshire and stayed on one occasion in a rented house not far from where this series is filmed, in a small town called Cowling. The plot, if you didn't watch it, revolves around Celia and Alan, who are re-united after 50-plus years. At age 16, Alan's late wife failed to pass on his letter with apology for missing their first date and forwarding address. Both now have daughters with their own relationship problems. Derek Jacobi plays Alan and Anne Reid plays Celia. It also stars Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker. The series is written by Sally Wainwright and apparently it is based loosely on real events and situations. The series started in November 2012 and has now reached it's third series.
Yet another series we've seen is called "Ordinary Lies" which is set in and around .J.S. Motors. Each episode tells a story from the angle of each of the central characters and how they tell lies to get out of a situation and how such lies causes problems for themselves and those around them. For example, the first episode revolves around Marty, one of the company's salesman, who is late for work consistently and then makes up the story that his wife has died. He is played by Jason Manford, not known for playing parts in television drama. It also stars Sally Lindsay, Mackenzie Crook (best known for his appearances in 'The Office' and the film 'Pirates of The Caribbean.'), Jo Joyner (EastEnders), Rebecca Callard, Max Beesley and Michelle Keegan (another former 'Coronation Street' actor.) It is written by Danny Brocklehurst.
Later episodes centre around the other characters. One is about receptionist Tracy who gets involved with fellow receptionist Viv when they get immured in a drug-trafficking charge into the Dominican Republic when they go on holiday abroad.