Housewife, 49, ITV1

by | Dec 10, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

We thought Victoria Wood was all washed up, doomed to forever to regurgitate jokes about macaroons, but this was a fantastic drama showing her writing and acting is probably more suited to serious stuff.

What was good about it?

• Victoria’s portrayal of Nella Last, a real woman from Barrow, who was brought to life thanks to the contributions she made to the government’s Mass Observation Scheme which got ordinary people to write about their lives during World War Two and beyond. Nella squeezed in every emotion possible during the war years and Victoria was just as comfortable and utterly believable doing the desotate tears as she was with the cheeky humour.

• The roster of co-stars especially Stephanie Cole as the matriarchal Women’s Voluntary Service leader ( “Even a morning a week would be a poke in the eye for Hitler”); David Threlfall as Nelly’s cold fish husband Will aka Daddy ( “You’re courting indigestion eating at that angle.”); Sally Bankes as nutty neighbour Mrs Whittaker; and Marcia Warren as snooty Mrs Lord

• Nelly’s dislike of George Formby and Gracie Fields, the Robbie Williams and Madonna of her day.

• The twist about Nella’s gay son Cliff was dealt with in a sensitive, unsensational manner.

• The attention to detail, however mundane, throughout.

• The louche homosexual and highly-strung woman who read Nella’s pencilled dispatches when they arrived in London

What was bad about it?

• There was nothing wrong with the drama, but a lot wrong with the class system which wasn’t dented during wartime. When everyone should have been mucking in together, the upper classes still ruled the roost.

• There was also a lot wrong with the condescending, unsympathetic reactions to Nella’s mental problems (known as “nerves” back then). As Nella confessed in her observations: “I’m sad, scared. I have nobody. I’m cheery in company. I cry all the time. I feel there’s a breeze blowing through my marriage. I’ve always been feeble.” and “I don’t want to have a stifled, fearful existence. I want a proper life, not smothering every spark of feeling just to suit other people.”

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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