ITV and CPL have created a hilariously sexy drama told through four strong female leads.
Brief Encounters (and yes I am ashamed to admit it took me a while to work out the title) has all the makings of a very popular summer watch.
Over six episodes, it tells the story of four very different females who become Ann Summers saleswomen and pledge to sell lingerie and ‘marital aids’ to the women of Sheffield in the early 1980s.
Steph (Sophie Rundle) and Nita (Angela Griffin) decide to embark on their new career in order to earn money for their young families. Steph works for Pauline (Penelope Wilton) as a cleaner and hosts her first party at her house where she meets hairdresser Dawn (Sharon Rooney).During the decade the drama is set, it was wrongly assumed that women held little interest in sexual activity beyond reproduction and that sexual women were women to be demonised. Women had long been thought of as passive sexual beings and these attitudes are prevailing ones even in the first episode. Upper-class women walk out of the party and turn their noses up at ‘disgusting’ behaviours, policemen frown upon ‘untoward parties’ and lines such as ‘I don’t want *my* wife selling all that stuff’. The mere fact sex toys were referred to as ‘martial aids’ demonstrates how attitudes dictated that sexual activity should only be between married couples and, to go one further, heterosexuals.
Just from the first episode, Brief Encounters – created and written by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina – promises to explore the sociological relationship between women, sex and attitudes all while making us howl with laughter.
Their introduction to the programme in their press pack encapsulates a lot of the theories and statements I myself have spent a long while studying and writing essays on. Rusling and Messina highlight the fact that these parties were never expected to take off and, so, it is of utmost importance to demonstrate that they did – and all while with women making unlikely best friends and ‘stepping out of shadows’.
The women are fictional but loosely based on the women who took on the jobs of the first Ann Summers parties, who the cast fondly told us they met up with for lunch to discuss.
With a cracking soundtrack (Duran Duran, Human League, Ultravox), a talented cast and a script written to perfection, Brief Encounters promises to be one of the highlights of the summer on ITV.Brief Encounters begins on ITV on Monday 4 July at 9pm.