sat 13/07/2024

Ordinary Lies, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Ordinary Lies, BBC One

Ordinary Lies, BBC One

Car showroom saga makes a sluggish start

Max Beesley (centre) with his mendacious employees at JS Motor Group

Screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst has some stellar credits on his CV (Shameless, Exile and The Street among others), though I don't know if Ordinary Lies is going to rate among his finest achievements. Over six episodes, the series will tell the stories of six employees of a car showroom, JS Motor Group Ltd (seemingly somewhere in the north-west), and how being frugal with the actualité blights their lives.

This opener starred Jason Manford as Marty, a salesman who prided himself on his glib motormouthing skills. However, it looked like his career was heading for the ditch. No longer brimming with his customary energy and confidence, he was having problems with wife Katrina (Erin Shanagher), he was struggling to drag himself out of bed in the mornings, and at work he was missing his sales targets and was in danger of getting a final warning from his irascible boss, Mike (Max Beesley). His ploy of trying to hide his lateness by crawling on all fours past Mike's window gave an inkling of Marty's splintered mental state (pictured below, Jason Manford and Rebecca Callard).Finding himself late for work one potentially final time, Marty did what anyone might have done, and blurted out an outrageous lie. Beyond outrageous in fact. It was just so ridiculous and so obviously doomed to bring disaster crashing round his ears almost immediately – no spoilers here, buddy – that it completely undermined the credibility of the ensuing story.

That was a shame, because there are quite a few things to like about Ordinary Lies. The cast is solid and generally sympathetic – Manford, in the midst of his early mid-life crisis, was so hopeless and hangdog that you couldn't help rooting for him – and the car showroom setting offers plenty of scope, even if automobilistic matters weren't exploited much in episode one. Beesley, tight-lipped and wearing a sharp and shiny suit, looks as though he really has put in some serious time flogging used Ford Focuses on the instalment plan, and it was no great surprise to find him getting into inappropriate clinches with Beth (Jo Joyner).

Marty's tale eventually ended as we knew it must, via some daft jokes and a gently touching interlude with his needy co-worker Grace (Rebecca Callard). If episode one wasn't firing on all six, Brocklehurst made sure he laid a few plot-landmines which might get viewers coming back for more, like the mystery of what's happened to Beth's absent husband who keeps ringing her up but not saying anything, and how this involves Marianne, another JS Motors employee. But so far, it's just pottering along well inside the speed limit.

Jason Manford, in the midst of his early mid-life crisis, was so hopeless and hangdog that you couldn't help rooting for him


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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