The strum­pets sound for sex in a new city

Jes­sica is hooked on sex , es­pe­cially if her con­quest is al­ready taken

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Rose­mary Neill

Mis­tresses 9.30pm, Seven

THE ti­tle of this racy new drama from the BBC is a dead give­away: yes, it’s about il­licit re­la­tion­ships; and yes, the key trans­gres­sors are women.

Mis­tresses is part thriller, part up­mar­ket soap opera forged from the Sex and the City tem­plate.

Four 30- some­thing women grap­ple with life and love and meet for din­ner or drinks with a fre­quency that sug­gests they have no other de­mands on their time.

Lead char­ac­ter Katie, played by Sarah Parish, doe- eyed star of Bri­tish se­ries Black­pool and Cut­ting It, is a trusted GP who has been hav­ing an af­fair with a mar­ried pa­tient. The pa­tient is ter­mi­nally ill and dies sooner than his fam­ily — also treated by Katie — were ex­pect­ing. When the pa­tient’s son starts ask­ing ques­tions, Katie’s per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rep­u­ta­tion is on the line.

Katie’s best friend Trudi ( Sharon Small) is a mother of two and a Septem­ber 11 widow who sus­pects her hus­band may still be alive, as his body was never found in the World Trade Cen­tre ru­ins. Then there are those anony­mous phone calls. What do they mean? Just as Trudi re­ceives a $ US2 mil­lion in­sur­ance pay­out, a hand­some, sin­gle dad asks her on a date, the first since her hus­band’s pre­sumed death. Is her new beau gen­uine, or af­ter her dough?

The third mem­ber of this all- girl quar­tet, Siob­han ( Orla Brady), is a lawyer who ends up in a clinch with a col­league be­cause sex with her hus­band has lost its siz­zle un­der the strain of try­ing ( un­suc­cess­fully) to fall preg­nant. Be­sides, her col­league had been ask­ing to see her undies for some time, and she obliges. Po­lit­i­cally cor­rect this isn’t. But nor, alas, does the di­a­logue be­tween th­ese li­cen­tious lawyers seem re­motely au­then­tic. Sim­i­larly, se­rial slap­per Jes­sica ( Shelley Conn) is more ma­chine than char­ac­ter, vir­tu­ally a clone of Sex and the City res­i­dent maneater Sa­man­tha. Jes­sica is hooked on sex rather than ro­mance, es­pe­cially if her con­quest is al­ready taken.

Sleep­ing with mar­ried men, she boasts, is a no- brainer, as they’re bed­room- trained, low- main­te­nance and have an exit strat­egy.

Clearly, there is plenty — in­deed, too much — go­ing on in this high­class soap: the sto­ry­line is just too busy to be cred­i­ble. The story of Katie hav­ing it off with her now- dead pa­tient, whose death she may have has­tened, could sus­tain a drama in its own right. In­stead, it’s squeezed be­tween com­pet­ing sub­plots and loses im­pact as a re­sult.

Still, th­ese wicked or wronged women have proved highly pop­u­lar with view­ers in their na­tive Bri­tain. Mis­tresses rated so well, a sec­ond se­ries is to be filmed later this year.

Sex and vi­o­lins: The Mis­tresses cast, from left, Shelley Conn, Sharon Small, Sarah Parish and Orla Brady

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