I am enjoying this Leeds-based drama by Kay Mellor, although I haven't quite worked out whether it is comedy, drama, murder mystery, love story or just a mix of everything. That would make sense, as "a mix of everything" is pretty much the job description of a council registrar, who must see the highs and lows of life on a daily basis.
Ashley Jensen plays Kate, a slightly unconventional senior registrar who is popular at work but has teenagers at home, with all the upheaval that brings. Dodgy texts from unknown males, truancy from school, late-night disappearances, stepsons randomly turning up to move in. Her husband is a detective, dragging corpses of young women out of canals. Somehow it looks as though all of these things are connected by more than just family ties.
Rebecca Front plays Judy, the woman who longs to be Kate's boss but instead finds that Kate has become her boss. This brings out all of Judy's narcissistic nasty sides, with her (pardon the pun) trump card being her possession of CCTV footage of Kate's fling with a colleague at the office Christmas party. Judy doesn't seem to accept that the reason no one wants her to be the boss is that she's really a bit of a bitch. I'm not saying that it's a good idea to shag your colleagues in a stationery cupboard either, especially if you have a husband and kids, but being nice to your workmates (even the ones you aren't shagging) usually takes you far.
Then there is James, trying to become Jamie. He's been thrown out by his wife, so he moves in to Kate's as well, even if the sofa is the only space left in the house.
The office, Judy aside, is an open and tolerant place where people from all walks of life walk in. From the parents who want to call their child Chlamydia, to the gay couples finally allowed to marry after 25 years of partnership, to the Slovenian woman possibly being illegally coerced into marriage to get her husband a right to remain. Then there is the man who turns up with his newborn baby son to register his birth. The baby's mother is absent because she is dying in a hospice, having refused to start potentially life-saving cancer treatment in order to be able to continue with her pregnancy. The couple aren't married because they never had the money or time to get around to it, and now it seems it's too late. But not if Kate has anything to do with it. A couple of phonecalls, some emergency form-signing and a trip to a charity shop later, the hospice is full of flowers and family and - well, you're a heartless cow if it didn't bring a tear to your eye. Very shortly afterwards, the husband is back at the Town Hall to register his wife's death. Kate is out officiating at a wedding and trying to locate her truanting daughter, but he waits and waits, his calm and peaceful baby son lying in his arms. For it is Kate that he wants to officiate. Not Judy.
|The lions of Leeds|
My cousin Flo got married at Leeds Town Hall. It was an early start for us all, as the only slot available for the date she wanted was at 9 o'clock in the morning. Which may explain my slightly dishevelled look on the photo below. I was very glad I didn't have to do full bridal make-up and hair by that time, but of course Flo managed all of that effortlessly and looked amazing. And actually, it was a good thing that the wedding was so early - about an hour after we had our photos taken on the Town Hall steps it began raining torrentially and didn't stop for the rest of the day.
Though I am fairly sure that the steps that they use in Love, Lies and Records are actually the ones that go up to the City Museum in Millennium Square, where my daughter and I have whiled away many an hour in its Toddler Town and animal-filled basement.
And nasty Judy may run this TV Leeds Council office, but Nice Judy runs Leeds City Council in real life. I am biased of course - she happens to be my aunt. But she just got awarded a CBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in a ceremony alongside Mo Farah and Delia Smith, for her services to local government and the City of Leeds. So she is definitely doing something right. We are so proud of her. Bravo.