Brief Encounters Episode 6 ~ ITV

The grand finale and an award winning performance from Penelope Wilton as Pauline, her talents have been showcased in a much better way than Downton Abbey was able to provide. On reflection, Mrs Crawley was too similar to other interfering ladies that Wilton has played throughout her career. Pauline has given a well loved actress a new lease of life and I think the nation stood still as with teary eyes, she told Brian (Peter Wight) that she had known a man before him and that she had a Son who had traced her. The catalyst for this outburst? Ovaltine! What a well chosen moment for the truth to come out.

It’s testament to the gritty and believable writing that such a showdown worked, and indeed that the rest of the finale was wrapped up in a way that leaves the way clear for a second series. There MUST be a second series, ITV has a gem of a production in this series.

A CPL production for ITV.Pictured: 

This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to Brief Encounters.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS Pictured: BEN BAILEY SMITH as Johnny.

The rest of the episode consisted of Steph (Sophie Rundle) pulling off a spectacular event which enable her talents to be noticed by a top dog for Ann Summers! A Unit Manager role is offered and in what is a neat culmination of the character’s efforts throughout the six episodes. That Nita (Angela Griffin) ‘chooses’ that moment to be giving birth backstage after a confrontation with Pauline relating to the accident which left Brian for dead, is genius! Plus, Dawn (Sharon Rooney) is bustling around trying to be the glue while hoping for an appearance from her husband who should be there modelling a willy warmer. When Russell (Will Merrick) does rock up he certainly doesn’t let his Mrs down.

The love triangle between Terry (Karl Davies), Steph and Johnny (Ben Bailey Smith) draws to a conclusion, too. Or it certainly reaches its peak for the sake of the end of the first series, it would be interesting to see what the future will bring.

I was happy with all of the decisions made by the writers for this episode, I’d be even happier with a second series and more than six episodes, please!

Photo credits: ITV

 

Brief Encounters Episode 5 ~ ITV

Monday night brought us the penultimate episode of Brief Encounters, and it was all kicking off in more ways than one!

Johnny (Ben Bailey Smith) is left disappointed by his mother Pauline’s rejection of him, she as good as admits to being his birth mum, but is not able to offer any sort of relationship with him. Penelope Wilton is playing a fantastic part in this brilliant series, Pauline is one of my favourite characters and Wilton is digging deeper and deeper as an actress, every week. Johnny also faces rejection from Steph (Sophie Rundle), yet again, despite the revelation that Terry (Karl Davies) has possibly fathered a child during his affair. Setting up a great potential storyline to carry over into another series!

Dawn’s (Sharon Rooney) wedding day looks set to have a dark cloud hanging over it when her father rips her wedding dress, a dress which belonged to her late mother. There’s a touching moment when Brian (Peter Wight) offers to walk Dawn down the aisle after she declares that he and Pauline are like her family, now. Even more poignant given that Pauline is denying all knowledge of her natural son. Testament to clever writing, there!

Dawn and Russell (Will Merrick) have a perfect wedding ceremony, a good knees up at their reception and avoid a punch up with Dawn’s father when he turns up to claim his son back.

sophie
Sophie Rundle as troubled Steph

 

There looks to be a recurrence of Steph and Johnny’s affair as she has approached him for help with finding Nita’s (Angela Griffin) son. Steph is angry with Terry for admitting to his vengeance on her potential rape perpetrator in the previous week’s episode. Coupled with the fact that it looks likely that his affair cannot be left behind them, where they will end up at the close of the series remains a mystery.

Consistently, this show has succeeded in maintaining several cocurrent storylines and each one has kept my interest. A second series is needed please, ITV!!!

Photo credits: ITV

Brief Encounters Episode 4 ~ ITV

It’s fair to say that this episode centred mainly around Dawn (Sharon Rooney) and her bewildered fiancé Russell (Will Merrick) as the poor lad is trying to fathom how best to let his betrothed down gently.

Yes, Dawn is certainly getting carried away and flashing her cash on the big white wedding she has her heart set on, and Russell is tired of being dragged along in her wake. A conversation with Brian (Peter Wight) results in a cancelled engagement. However, Dawn’s ensuing conversation with the ailing Butcher goes some way towards helping the love birds reunite. Thankfully, say I, as they do seem to be made for one another!

A CPL production for ITV.Pictured: 

This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to Brief Encounters.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS Pictured: PENELOPE WILTON as Pauline.

However, as always, in this supremely cleverly written programme, there is more than one drama occurring. Pauline’s (Penelope Wilton) world is spinning on its axis when PC Daniels (Ben Bailey Smith) drops the bombshell that he is indeed, her son. Much as she tries to deny this to his face, it is evident from her behaviour that he is telling the truth. So next week will be interesting!

Steph (Sophie Rundle) comes a cropper as she breaks her own golden rule and visits the house of a caretaker who claims to have a wife who would be cheered up by a party. Disaster is avoided, but her husband Terry (Karl Davies) leaves the culprit in no doubt of his feelings towards the attack on his wife. This plot development seems to go some way towards reconciliation for the troubled couple, but I don’t expect their road to be an easy one, and maybe we’ll be left in limbo as to who Steph will choose. Given the writers’ penchant for a cliff hanger, Steph might continue to be torn between her marriage plight and PC Daniels.

Photo credits: ITV

Brief Encounters Episode 3 ~ ITV

So, Brian’s (Peter Wight) time wasn’t up after all, following last week’s harrowing episode where the hapless Butcher was left for dead, complete with the flashy engagement ring that he couldn’t afford to buy for Pauline (Penelope Wilton) all those years ago. Although it seems that the secretive businessman couldn’t really afford the ring, now – and while he’s flashed his cash on this piece of bling, the meat supplier is no longer happy to bring the goods without money up front. What does this mean for Pauline and Brian? It means that Pauline resorts to selling naughty knickers and remote controlled vibrating dildos!

Dawn (Sharon Rooney) is distraught when she finds out that her young kid brother is not being looked after properly since her departure from the family home. She can’t help but feel that he’s her responsibility and is desperately seeking a solution.

brief
Terry’s back in favour – for now!

 

After an afternoon fumble with PC Johnny (Ben Bailey Smith), Steph (Sophie Rundle) returns to her husband Terry (Karl Davies), although I suspect that many of us were shouting at the telly after this decision! Her mother is still harping on at her to take him back, and appears to have got her way, for now.

Poor Nita (Angela Griffin) is devastated to learn of her husband Kieran’s (Don Gilet) part in Brian’s misfortune, and I expect that will be further investigated next week. A blot on their relationship that they might never recover from, perhaps?

The writing from the pens of Messina and Rusling continues to impress me, they’re a tour de force and they’ve created, in my opinion, one of the best television dramas that ITV has seen for a long time. Kudos, ladies – this is nothing short of perfect.

Photo credits: ITV

Brief Encounters Episode 2 ~ ITV

1982 in the world of Ann Summers demonstrators, ITV have definitely hit the jackpot with this tremendous Monday night viewing. Episode two of Brief Encounters proved to be just as enticing as the first instalment.

Poor Steph is trying to balance her new job as an Ann Summers demonstrator, with a son in tow and no husband. Her son is constantly questioning when his daddy will be coming home and her mother (Felicity Montagu) is being less than helpful, her opinion being that her daughter should not have parted ways with her husband simply because he cheated on her!

Nita (Angela Griffin) and her ex-con husband (Don Gilet) are at odds about the fifth baby they are expecting, with Nita against going ahead with the pregnancy.

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Steph’s life is in turmoil, her work is one of the more reliable aspects!

My favourite couple, perhaps ironically, given the ending of the episode, are Pauline (Penelope Wilton) and Brian (Peter Wight). They’re a prime example of how the Ann Summers range worked/works favourably for older couples, and it’s so refreshing to see Penelope Wilton playing a totally different character. She is so renowned for playing whiners and holier than thou characters, Pauline is quite a new direction for her and she’s playing it brilliantly. Peter Wight compliments her well and they’re believable as a couple, let’s hope next week’s episode doesn’t destroy that element of the programme for me!

Meanwhile, Dawn (Sharon Rooney) has taken up residence Chez Pauline/Brian and seems to be making herself at home with Russell (Will Merrick), a little bit too at home, it seems!

What the scripts for this much needed ITV drama are adept at doing, are taking the viewer through a gripping scene, edge of the seat stuff, and then lightening the mood in one foul swoop. Another cliff hanger to finish on, to, I can’t wait for next week, and I’m already contemplating another series!

Brief Encounters, Episode 1 ~ ITV

It’s about time ITV was shaken up a bit, and what a dream of a television show we have been given to do just that! Brief Encounters, written by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina is set around a group of women who are being enticed into the world of Ann Summers! So, the likes of Penelope Wilton and Elsie Kelly (Noreen from ITV’s Benidorm) basically find themselves surrounded by marital aids!

It’s set I the early 80s and the first episode revolved around Steph, Nita and Pauline, played by Sophie Rundle, Angela Griffin and Penelope Wilton respectively. Steph feels as though she is contributing nothing to her household, or life, in fact, while her husband Terry (Karl Davies) is jobless and not paying her any attention.

Nita becomes friendly with Steph after they start chatting in the playground, and the ballsy mum of four convinces Steph to go and see what the Ann Summers demonstrator roles, entail. Steph’s current job is as a cleaner for Pauline, she’s stagnating while her career-focused husband is working all hours.

Penelope
Penelope Wilton stars as Pauline in the series

So the scene is set for drama, friendship and hilarious consequences. Also along for the ride are Sharon Rooney who plays Dawn, a young hairdresser who is engaged to Russell, played by Will Merrick.

It’s a terrific first episode from the point of view of introducing characters and their relationships, setting up potential storylines for future episodes and the chemistry between the cast is perfect. As an ensemble, they make a formidable team, already. The main female roles seem to be forming a bond not dissimilar to that seen in Calendar Girls, Fat Friends and In The Club – all of which are successful, so this looks promising.

When Pauline caved in and allowed Steph to hold her first party at her house, it was everything I hoped it would be. The fact that the majority of the party were embracing the raciness, was a sheer delight in itself. I don’t think I’ll forget the look on Pauline’s Mother-In-Law’s face for a long time to come, Elsie Kelly is playing her as stupendously well as she plays Noreen in Benidorm.

I’m excited for next week’s instalment and what a rollercoaster of a cliff-hanger we were left with. Brilliant!

 

Photo Credits: ITV

 

 

Spotlight On… Actress, Gemma Dobson

Gemma Dobson has given birth in front of the nation, which not many people can say! In fact, what ACTRESS, Gemma Dobson has done is taken her first professional role in Kay Mellor’s In The Club. Gemma played Shelly who was a new character introduced with her mother, Maxine (Sandra Huggett) for series two of the hit television series. I chatted to Gemma about her professional debut and what’s next on the agenda for this talented young lady.

Thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg, Gemma. So, tell me what it was like joining the established cast of In The Club.

It was daunting, especially on the first day, to be meeting and reading in front of actors that I’d grown up watching on the telly. I learned so much from them and from the experience. What was lovely was being invited to nights out so that I could get to know everybody socially. Most of my scenes were with Lorraine Cheshire, Sandra Huggett and the boys so it was a great opportunity to meet everybody else. It sounds cheesy but we really are one big happy family. We all get on and that includes the crew, too.

What was your opinion of Shelly when you first read the script?

I loved the character and really wanted to play her. Kay Mellor writes such fantastic scripts and I could already picture what Shelly looked like.

How familiar were you with Kay’s work?

I have watched everything that she has written, I love her work. I watched Fat Friends, The Chase, The Syndicate and the first series of In The Club. To be working with Kay was brilliant. I grew up watching all of her television programmes.

Gemma Dobson BBC 2
Gemma as Shelly in BBC One’s In The Club, with Sandra Huggett as Maxine, Lorraine Cheshire as Geraldine, Andrew Buckley as Andrew and Paul Nicholls as Nathan. All Photo credits: BBC

 

If there is a third series, what would you like to see happen to your character?

I don’t know really, I’d be happy with whatever Kay wrote for Shelly. I’ve already given birth on screen and it might be good to see her have a baby that she was going to keep. Maybe with somebody she’s in a relationship with. I’d love more scenes with Paul Nicholls and Andrew Buckley who played Nathan and Andrew. Andrew Buckley was so well cast as Andrew and so funny, Paul Nicholls was also brilliant, Nathan is the complete opposite of Andrew, but they worked so well together.

What inspired you to become an actress?

I went to a performing arts school and I loved acting and performing. When I left and I was doing a normal job I realised that I wanted to be acting and I missed doing it. I joined an acting class which I go to once a week (and I still go to, now) and David Shaw came in to cast for the first series of In The Club. I didn’t get the small part they were casting for and I was gutted. However, David remembered me and he saw me as Shelly. If I had got the small part I wouldn’t have been able to play Shelly.

What’s your advice for budding actors?

Don’t give up, if it’s your dream, then go for it. Even if you do what I did and go to an acting class. You don’t have to go to Drama School. I was in a job when I left school and decided that I wanted to give acting another go. I started to go to this acting class and that’s where Casting Director, David Shaw saw me and kept me in mind. acting is what you want to do, then keep at it. Don’t ever stop learning either, I still go to my classes because you never stop learning. Also, I hadn’t even got an agent when I got the part of Shelly. I was so thrilled when I went to London for a meeting and at the end of it my agent said she’d love to represent me.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a part in Brief Encounters which starts on ITV, soon. I’m praying for a third series of In The Club. I’d love to do theatre, too.

I’d like to thank Gemma for her time and can’t wait to see her in Brief Encounters and hopefully on the stage, too!

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