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Love, Lies & Records, BBC One review - Ashley Jensen too good to be true | reviews, news & interviews

Love, Lies & Records, BBC One review - Ashley Jensen too good to be true

Love, Lies & Records, BBC One review - Ashley Jensen too good to be true

Kay Mellor's city hall drama tries hard to please all parties

Say cheese: Ashley Jensen and Rebecca Front in Love, Lies & BleedingBBC / Rollem Productions

Love, Lies & Records (BBC One) is one of those bathetic titles that are very Yorkshire. See also Last Tango in Halifax, which didn’t do badly. Sleepless in Settle is surely in development.

This is the new drama from Kay Mellor, who set Band of Gold in a sorority of sex workers and Fat Friends among people mustering at Weightwatchers. With her long-established nose for a good yarn, she now moves in on that boiling cauldron of drama, Leeds city hall.

It’s quite a shrewd concept. All human life is here: birth, marriage and alas death, all of them neatly packaged up into the opening episode's weepy storyline. A young man called Simon Armitage, whom some of you may know as someone else entirely, came in to register his newborn son while the young mother Jenny, who had refused chemo in order not to impede the pregnancy, languished in a hospice. Simon Armitage got to marry his beloved that very afternoon thanks to the tender ministry of senior registrar Kate Dickenson (Ashley Jensen), who later all but ran him and his baby over as he crossed the road in a grieving stupor, his new bride having just gone to her rest. Love, Lies & RecordsPromisingly for a protagonist, at work Kate has the empathy of a saint while at home she presides over a more chaotic and rambunctious establishment populated by a needy brood of uncontrollable teens and her bloke Rob (Adrian Bower). Rob's a detective who, handily, is just starting to work on a story-rich murder case. He's less good at detecting stuff happening under his own roof. At the Christmas party Kate had a crafty shag in the strongroom with younger colleague Rick (Kenny Doughty). The show being about records, there’s CCTV footage of the incident which Kate’s colleague Judy Fellows (Rebecca Front), a black-hearted shrew passed over for promotion to superintendent, plans to use against her. "Wasn't sex," says Kate, "Looked like sex to me," miaowed Judy, who feels a little underwritten and possibly isn't getting much.

Another knotty plotline involves young East European women caught up in a complicated scam to use their EU status to marry Iranians who can then fast-track their British citizenship application. “Who are you to make those decisions?” asked the Iranian denied instant access to his UK papers. “I’m a senior registrar," said Kate firmly, "and it’s my job to abide by rules of the 2014 Immigration Act.” 

It’s a storyline to warm the cockles of the most ardent Brexiteer, who can cheer Kate on as, gimlet-eyed, she stands up to the illegal immigrants. But she is also a bleeding-hearted liberal who is there for her colleague James (Mark Stanley), grappling with his own up-to-the-minute anxiety: henceforth, he announced at a meeting, he planned to come in to work as a woman. Everybody clapped apart from office villain Judy, but there was less applause for James when he got home and broke it to his wife.

Kate, in truth, is a little bit too box-tickingly good to be true. But Jensen is delightfully watchable, and the eventful doings of the city hall are a refreshing novelty for prime time. For once we're not in A&E or in a murder incident room. It's an old-fashioned drama which wants you to care, but also to laugh. At one point a couple came in wishing to call their daughter Chlamydia, which is the kind of researched detail you just can’t invent. It's a bit too early to tell, but like the social disease Love, Lies & Records may well be catching.


It’s a story to warm the cockles of the most ardent Brexiteer


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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