Tuesday 31 January 2012

Prisoners' Wives

First Footballers and now 'Prisoners' Wives', not to mention 'Mistresses', are the subject of TV dramas.  Women are the focus, but it seems strange in the 21st Century that we haven't been treated to 'Policewomen's Husbands'.

Gender commentary aside, this started with Steve (Jonas Armstrong) telling his young, pregnant wife Gemma (Emma Rigby) that he was her 'dream ticket'.  Predictably, it was all of thirty seconds before armed officers burst in, arrested Steve and turned Gemma's dream into a nightmare.

We were taken into prison as a visitor, with Gemma, and the sense of degradation and humiliation at having scans and body searches was palpable.  Less successful is the character of Gemma herself, whose naivety and ignorance of her husband's life fits the 1950s more than the 2010s.  It doesn't seem to occur to her, for a good while, to ask who the victim was and why the police had charged Steve with murder.  She also seems to have no family or friends of her own, just a creepy and socially inept boss.

In stark contrast is Polly Walker's Francesca, wife to drug-dealer Paul (Iain Glen, villain par excellence).  She's knowing, proud and handy with a stopcock.  A red-hot wife and a Tiger Mother, she's already gone some way to yanking Gemma into the real world, after the heavily-pregnant young woman has hauled herself through the window of her mother-in-law's caravan and discovered the gun her husband swore he didn't own.  Why do criminals always keep weapons, money or drugs in biscuit tins on top of cupboards?

Worth sticking with to see the relationships develop between the women, and presumably deteriorate with their partners in prison.  Plea to production companies everywhere: strong drama is quite good enough to do without the signposting songs, which can safely be left to the likes of 'Holby City'.  Ta.

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