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The Ice Cream Girls, ITV | reviews, news & interviews

The Ice Cream Girls, ITV

The Ice Cream Girls, ITV

A dark secret from the Nineties haunts Poppy and Serena, but do we care?

Evan (Nicholas Pinnock) and Serena (Lorraine Burroughs) are about to be bitten by ghosts from the past

A new drama series at 9pm on a Friday? How often does that happen, eh? Friday is supposed to be reserved for quiz shows, comedies and BBC Four documentaries about disco music.

Whether it should have happened is, for the time being, a moot point. After this first of three episodes (adapted by Kate Brooke from Dorothy Koomson's novel) we're left in that familiar position of having a crime, a victim, and some carefully-manufactured ambiguity about the perpetrator, or perpetratrors. We also have a double time frame, the present day and 1995, which can hardly help but bring on flashbacks to the convoluted and disappointing Lightfields, recently aired on the same channel.

Anyway, the story so far is that Serena (Lorraine Burroughs) and her doctor-husband Evan (Nicholas Pinnock) and daughter Vee (Dominique Jackson) have left Leeds and driven down south to an unspecified seaside resort, where Serena's mother is terminally ill. Serena gets a tetchy reception from her sister, who's evidently been shouldering the burden of looking after their ailing relative. 

Coming back to her old home town is clearly proving stressful for Serena, but it soon becomes clear from her sleepless nights and nightmarish memory-flashes that there's more than one reason for that. Somewhere on the wrong side of the tracks, Poppy (Jodhi May) has just been released from jail, which she celebrates by whooping at passing cars from a motorway flyover. Back in '95, that halcyon epoch of East 17, Robson & Jerome and Oasis, Serena and Poppy were ... not friends so much as co-victims of Serena's schoolteacher, Marcus Hansley (Martin Compston, pictured above). It's gradually revealed that manipulative love-rat Marcus, who'd been cynically playing off the two girls against each other, ended up fatally stabbed. Poppy (played in her teens by Holli Dempsey, pictured below with Georgina Campbell as the young Serena) was found guilty of the crime and went to prison.

Poor Poppy has drawn the short straw, big time. While Serena has been enjoying a life of middle-class affluence, Poppy emerges into an unfriendly world in which her brutish stepfather and pub landlord Jim (Owen Roe) looms all too large. Jim sees Poppy merely as a potential deterrent to his customers and treats her like a mangy stray dog, and she can't expect much support from her mother who cowers in Jim's zeppelin-like shadow. Oddly, mum and stepdad look exactly the same as they 18 years earlier.

Poppy goes to do a bit of therapeutic clearing-out of the family beach hut, a poor decision since she stumbles across a suitcase full of press cuttings about her murder trial. Feeling bitter and vengeful, she sets out to get revenge on Serena, a process she sets in motion by paying a visit to husband Evan, purporting to be a patient.

Where the guilt really lies will doubtless be spun out until the closing minutes of episode three, but it seems Serena may not be squeaky-clean. On a visit to the police station, prompted by her berserk decision to make a tyre-smoking getaway from a police car, she encountered a sinister WPC who remembered the murder case, and warned her darkly that "you don't get away with every crime, you know." The acting is solid, the script is OK and they remembered to take the lens cap off the camera. But am I gripped? No.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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