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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Syndicate: more ridiculous than it needs to be.


I’ve worked out why this series makes me grumble. It’s supposed to be about the effects of a big lottery win on a group of ordinary people, but none of them are ordinary. They all have dark secrets and this week it’s the turn of Rose (Alison Steadman) to have hers revealed.

As suspected, Rose has been fraudulently claiming benefits and her high profile win has brought her to the attention of the DWP. And that was the extent of the realistic part of her storyline. The rest was utterly farcical, from her madcap dash down several flights of stairs and escape via ambulance from the fraud investigator to the idea that someone could forget for 9 and a half years that they were claiming benefits they were no longer entitled to. I’m clearly too prim and proper for this storyline, and the one where she and Alan get stoned each week, she to ease the pain of her knee. I was surprised my parents found this scene so amusing, pretty sure if I sat around getting stoned to ease my aches and pains they would be furious. I’ve noticed this before, young people taking casual drugs in shows is frowned upon by older viewers, but if it is people their age then it’s a bit of harmless fun. Odd.


Anyway, she spends most of the episode worrying about being ‘made an example of’ and carted off to jail, but in actuality gets hit with a very large bill, over £87,000. Which is a good idea, prison would have cost more and Rose is one of the few people who can afford to pay back monies. That’s if she has any left after her son blows £3000 on a television! Mind you, my unashamedly favourite character, Becky, has spent £60,000 on a car she can’t even drive yet, although I’m a tad concerned that new boyfriend Luke is looking after it. I hope we can trust him.


 I should probably be more worried about Becky’s mum, Mandy, though. She hasn’t killed her husband (phew!), she’s just keeping him locked up in the cellar hooked to IV drips so he doesn’t die. So that’s ok then.


Hang on.



Locked up. In the cellar. Hooked up to drips.



That’s not normal! Even if he is abusing you. How on earth is Mandy going to get out of this one? I don’t foresee a happy ending. Or a terribly realistic one. I believe that Kay Mellor used to have a reputation as a writer of reasonably gritty realism and heart-warming drama, but this is ridiculous. Surely at least one person who won the lottery would have a mundane life. Ok, I know that doesn’t make for good telly but having a sensible and caring nurse who is being abused would have been a gripping and thought provoking storyline, why overload it with melodrama? I’m really struggling with this series. The acting is superb but the wealth of performing talent has been badly let down by Mellor’s writing. Here’s hoping for an improvement next week.

Contributed by Victoria Prior


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