sat 20/07/2024

Lip Service, Series Two, BBC Three | reviews, news & interviews

Lip Service, Series Two, BBC Three

Lip Service, Series Two, BBC Three

Normal service isn't quite resumed as Frankie and co return in second series of the Glaswegian 'L Word'

Look who's back: Ruta Gedmintas as a newly penitent Frankie in 'Lip Service'

From the moment the first series came eyepoppingly to the boil, the loyal fanbase of Lip Service began clamouring for a second helping. That was back in November 2010. Eighteen months later, their wish has finally been granted, and audiences are once more free to plunge headlong into the world of the Glaswegian L Word. Some things are reassuringly very much as you were.

Two characters were down to their smalls within a minute of the start, while the Friday-night bar scene is still a low-lit den of drugs, booze and casual same-sex nods, winks and frots. This remains in-your-face entertainment with a distinct flavour of marmite.

But Lip Service 2.0 needs to offer something new as well as something blue truly to earn its place as a developing drama rather than a tokenistic exercise in box-tick(l)ing, and it comes in the shape of its reformed main character. The lanky Frankie (Ruta Gedmintas) introduced herself in the first series as a relentless predator who thrust her mitts onto and indeed into all manner of gooey-eyed females. She wasn’t above doing it in a morgue. But by the end of episode six it seemed she had put her unruly life into some sort of order, made up with her petite ex Cat (Laura Fraser) and touched base with her birth mother. This time round, she’s ever so calmed down. “Sort yourself out and stop acting like a fucking cock,” another mournful ex-squeeze (Natasha O’Keeffe) advised in a cameo appearance, and she’s taken the advice on board. Maybe a bit too much. We even saw her abjectly apologising to an Aussie ex-conquest who came to see about a flatshare vacancy.

The spur for all this contrition is a broken heart, which does tend to knock the stuffing out of even the most voracious snatch-hound (Frankie’s words from the first series, before anyone complains). “Usual girls-wants-girl, can’t-have-girl bollocks,” she explained of her malaise. She and Cat spent the entire first series warily circling around each other until they finally to everyone's relief took a tumultuous sub-Wagnerian soft-lit horizontal meeting in ep six. It now appears that Cat, far from dumping her copper girlfriend Sam (Heather Peace, pictured above right with Fraser), is planning to buy a flat with her. So we would seem to be back at square one. Whether Lip Service’s audience can really stomach a penitent, moping Frankie remains to be seen. A whole series of Gedmintas ducking out of sex with pick-ups isn't what the audience necessarily signed up for. And whether Cat can resist Frankie's sultry Diana-on-coke come-hither looks will be the other slow-burning question (answer by the end of this episode: doesn't look like it.) The new Australian flatmate Lexie (Anna Skellern) will no doubt be joining the urgent bedhopping roundelay.

Best of all, it's not afraid to poke fun at itself

Elsewhere, it’s all business as usual. Cat is still being overlooked at work by her sexist boss who prefers the cut of her colleague Jay’s jib (stubbly Emun Elliot). Token straight bezzie Ed (James Anthony Pearson) is still a character in search of a romantic plotline. And Tess (Fiona Button) remains a ditzy accident waiting to happen, uncertain about a relationship with footballing Fin (Lorraine Burroughs), who is rarely unaccompanied by a gaggle of rowdy beer-glugging hardnutettes.

Is Lip Service good? In a way it doesn’t matter. It’s still enough that it exists. It doesn't touch as deeply as, say, the lovely and moving Kissing Jessica Stein (2001). But even if you’re not top of the list of the target audience, it hits its marks and does a job. Button and Fraser are the actresses with real heft, Gedmintas radiates presence, while the confident writing of Harriet Braun only wavers when it strays from familiar ground. A storyline featuring Tess’s first rehearsal for a new Chekhov production felt daubed in marker pen, featuring garish theatrical stereotypes from a more dull-witted drama. Elsewhere it’s witty and slick and, for those viewers who can’t claim first-hand experience of the world, a bit like the natural history programme we saw Frankie watching about “the teeming bush”. Best of all, it's not afraid to poke fun at itself. “Tess seems to have gone all lesbian on me,” said Frankie, noting the stacks of herbal teas in the kitchen cupboard.

But at some point they're all going to have to put that naughty pun in the title back to work. Only then will eponymous service be resumed.

  • Lip Service continues on BBC Three at 9pm on Fridays

Follow @JasperRees on Twitter

A whole series of Gedmintas ducking out of sex with pick-ups isn't what the audience necessarily signed up for

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And 'a television series that must go on !

I thought this an excellent review. It is hard-hitting, and to my mind too much so - being so pleased with the series, just so in love, so grateful. But the words are right. Well done.

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