Former Coro Street writer delivers again with Love, Lies and Records

by Catherine Woulfe / 20 August, 2018
Love, Lies and Records, Monday.

Love, Lies and Records, Monday.

RelatedArticlesModule - Love, lies and records

In Kay Mellor’s new drama Love, Lies and Records, sweetness and light meet bitterness and pedantry.

From the opening moments of Love, Lies and Records (Vibe, Sky 006, Monday, 9.40pm), it’s clear Kate Dickenson is a woman under siege. At home she is woken by an intruder. In rapid succession she finds disturbing texts on her teenage daughter’s phone, and her son – an intolerable brat – makes an announcement: “I hate all my family!”

At work it’s even worse. Kate is a kind-hearted, capable registrar at the Leeds Registry Office: births, deaths, weddings, the whole drama-loaded caboodle. (Why isn’t this a staple, à la cops, doctors, lawyers? Rich pickings!)

Yet all her good works may be undone by her truly formidable nemesis, Judy. Remember poor old Nicola Murray, the glum, delusional Leader of the Opposition in The Thick of It? The actor who played her, Rebecca Front, summons next-level bitterness and pedantry to deliver a performance that’s by turns acerbic and Cheshire-cat smug. Judy’s expecting a promotion, and Kate gets it, and all hell breaks loose.

“Judy creates all sorts of problems for herself and more for the people around her,” Front says. “Because her standards are so rigorous and so high, almost everybody falls short of those and when they do, Judy kind of wreaks vengeance on them. She’s kind of an avenging angel in a weird way, which is great; that’s really good fun to play.”

This new drama is created by Kay Mellor, the former Coronation Street writer recently responsible for well-received dramas In the Club, about an antenatal class, and The Syndicate, following lottery winners.

“She writes these very complicated, interwoven stories,” Front says. “At the same time, they’re very rooted in reality and all her characters are recognisable. You’ll have met them, you’ll have worked with them.”

There are genuinely touching moments, all of them anchored or orchestrated by Kate. (Ashley Jensen does a terrific job of making her likable, despite all the sweetness and light).

She organises an eleventh-hour wedding for a young mum dying of cancer. And she takes in a colleague who’s decided to dress as a woman. He leaves his family and can’t bear to tell them why. As he sobs on the couch, Kate goes into full mother-hen mode.

But a much more interesting plot arc awaits: the small matter of Kate’s Christmas do fling – and the CCTV tape Judy has kept tucked away in her “petty vengeance” arsenal.

This article was first published in the August 18, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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