IEF ENCOUNTERS.......... .
Just about to start
I am hoping this will be quite good
I'm going to watch on catch up at some point. Looks brill. Penelope Wilton is in it
Hadn't heard of it but think I'll try and watch on catch up at 10pm
Radio Times say ..............
With an Ann Summers store on pretty much every British high-street, it's strange to think back to a time when the store's sex toys and "exotic lingerie" were utterly taboo. In 2016, sex is on our TV screens, on our bookshelves and on our internet search histories. When it comes to what goes on between our sheets, there's nothing we won't try, do or talk about.
But rewind to the early 80s and it was a completely different story. ITV's new drama Brief Encounters follows four women whose lives are transformed by Ann Summers parties.
It's an absolute nostalgia fest for those who lived through the decade – think dodgy perms, patterned wallpaper and miles of embroidered denim – but the show, starring Penelope Wilton, Angela Griffin, Sophie Rundle and Sharon Rooney, is also a revealing look at how women's lives, both at work and in the bedroom, have changed beyond recognition.
"In 1982 I was married with a small child and I went to work but I can remember my tax bill and everything being sent to my husband," Wilton tells us. "It is extraordinary."
"It doesn’t sound that long ago, does it?" says Rundle, who was born in '88. "But it was 30 years ago and things were very different. Outside of London, in smaller towns it was even further back. It’s mad, to think that you couldn’t just go to university or go and get a job. People’s attitudes were, 'You can’t do this,' 'No, you’ve got to stay at home'."
Rundle's character Steph epitomises that struggle. She's a young married mum "living this quite normal life." She runs a home, cleans for a few extra pennies and looks after those around her. "She's never really thought to ask for more than that." But the Ann Summers parties open her eyes to her personal and professional potential.
"She actually is very good at selling," says Rundle. "[She] realises there’s just more to her and she realises that she wants there to be more to her. It’s sort of been in her, but she’s never thought to explore that side of her, this confident, independent, smart woman."
Brief Encounters is on after the watershed. There are "marital aids" galore (brace yourself for the eye-catching Stallion), much discussion about sex and some of the actual act itself. "I get up to all sorts," laughs actress Sharon Rooney. "Dawn and Russell [her character and her character's fiance] have a very healthy sexual relationship. Luckily for you, you do get to see them."
But, rather than being x-rated or rude, the drama is about the very real struggle women had to own their sexuality. As Penelope Wilton's character Pauline says in episode one, these women – mums, housewives and hairdressers from Sheffield – "are women in the throws of a sexual revolution."
"Women could enjoy sex and be able to say vocally that they enjoyed sex and have a choice of the sort of sex that they wanted," adds Wilton.
The effect becoming an Ann Summers reps had on the real women these characters are based on is remarkable. "Their financial situation changes through these parties. They become much more independent. Also the dominance of the male in the family… there’s a different balance of power," she says.
"The women that we talked to seem to feel like they were helping marriages by igniting passions and making sex fun, not just about a man but about a couple," says writer Fay Rusling. "They felt like they were sort of sex doctors."
"It’s exciting," adds Rundle. "What they did was come along and say, 'It’s okay, you’re allowed to enjoy sex. You’re allowed to be interested in it. This is for you, this isn’t for some smutty man in the raincoat outside the sex shop on the street corner. This is for you and your relationship and to feel empowered and good about yourself'."
Willy warmers aside, Brief Encounters is really about that empowerment, the power of female friendship and of what can happen when women band together. "It's about so much more than marital aids. Dawn's got a really nice group of women around her, she's got a new kind of support network. It's all about the women," says Rooney.
Steph "blossoms, through friendships with the other girls," adds Rundle. "That’s what does happen with friendships, particularly with women, I think. You pull each other up and you become a better version of yourself."
"To have four female lead characters is really exciting," she continues. "I loved that it’s a story about female friendships. That’s really important to me. It’s not about sexy women fighting crime and doing brain surgery. They’re just normal women, like the women we have in our lives."
Loving this! Brilliantly done and can't wait for next week!!
Ooh lots of familiar faces (and in 1982 I was 16yo so just about the time I would've been going to Ann Summers Parties )
The previews looked very "Full Monty" , it's a bit more bittersweet I think.
I was 13 at the time. It seems very true to what I remember. Great characters and well known actors in it and good storylines.
Yes to being a bit Like the Full Monty and a bit of Rita Sue and Bob thrown in as well.
I went to my first Lovelace (similar to AS) party in the late 80s when I was still a teen. My eyes about popped out of my head when the marital aids were passed round. I genuinely thought I was going to an underwear party.
I won a pair of crotchless knickers in the raffle.
All good clean fun.
Enjoyed the show. How many parts are there to it?
Speaking as someone who was 30 in 1982, the year that the series is set in, I found the attitudes very 1960s/70s rather than 80s. I enjoyed the programme, just found it frustrating. I had a 10 year career behind me in 82, as well as 2 children and a marriage. I was married to a serving member of the Armed Forces, so was constantly moving but always managed to find work and nursery provision for the children. No maternity pay or laws to stop employers refusing work to women with children, but I still managed.
My house was in it!
Was really good - only watching because we saw it being filmed back in February - can't wait for the next bit
Katz, do you live in Pauline's house? Loved the multicoloured vertical blinds
I would say you were the minority perhaps tooyoung. I come from a working class Lancashire town but my mum was a bit of a hyacinth bouquet and I could see so much of her in the older women, whereas me and my mates were much like the younger girls.
There was a huge loss of employment in my area due to cotton mills and paper mills closing so a lot of it was very accurate for me.
It was filmed in Sheffield. Our house didn't directly star in it but was in a couple of shots with one that did. We saw a few outside scenes filmed and the cars too.
The crew were lovely and really chatty, we had a move our cars and campervan as they weren't the correct era to make the street scenes work.
Love the soundtracks
I think it is based on experiences of Jacqueline Gold (who started AS iirc) and her friends
Jacqueline Gold was given the business by her porn baron (80s phrase!) dad.
I loved it, great show.
I hardly watch TV, I never watch itv because of the shit adds every ten minutes but I put up with the adds to watch it. Loved all the female characters even bunny made me laugh.
Enjoyed it, but distracted myself a bit trying to work out where different bits 'are' as I'm from Sheffield. Think the shops and the pub were Newfield Green?
I quite enjoyed it.
I suppose they were just after a mix of characters & it obviously depends on your age at the time as to what your circs were. I was in a small town, at an all girls school doing A levels & applying for University, as were most of us in the 6th form. Those not looking to uni were looking for work as had been the case for years!
"It’s mad, to think that you couldn’t just go to university or go and get a job. People’s attitudes were, 'You can’t do this,' 'No, you’ve got to stay at home'."
That just doesn't ring true to me at all!
But 1982-it was usual for women to be at
Just seen this advertised so have downloaded e1 and will reply once watched it
Havnt rtft so no spoilers
Join the discussion
Please login first.