A Kay Mellor drama is normally three things: heartwarming, humorous and not shy of dealing with tough issues. It’s also normally a must-watch. With the best will in the world, The Syndicate has hardly been the latter but having reached the end, I’ll admit it did score on the other points. In fact, and this will, I imagine, shock regular readers, I really liked the last episode. It was an excellent conclusion to Mandy’s story and the other character’s tales were tied up nicely. So, what made it so good?
For starters, we didn’t have endless repetition of previously shown scenes. Instead, the flashbacks were dealt with as Mandy detailed her confession to the police and showed us the crucial missing details. The biggest reveal was that evil Helen, the former syndicate member, has not just been blackmailing Mandy over the missing drugs, but has in fact conned £1 million out of her to cover up her revenge on Steve. I think we were supposed to feel sympathetic towards Helen when we discovered that her husband had left her for her younger sister but by this point in the programme I was half wishing it was Helen who had been kept captive in the cellar!
More interesting was Becky’s reaction, from grimly realising her mother was being abused, to insisting Mandy stay with her Dad and make it work, to finally helping her mother to escape. The escape scenes were particularly good. With a lovely subtlety, Becky had hidden screwdrivers and a bottle of water in Steve’s bag to delay his passage through airport security. She then rang Mandy and explained that alternative plane tickets to Crete (Mandy and Steve were supposed to be holidaying in the Canaries) were inside Mandy’s handbag. Seeing Steve yelling into his phone trying to work out where Mandy was as her plane sailed off in the background was a great moment. To then see Mandy in her little Crete cottage by the sea, looking relaxed and glamorous was a fabulous ending, although I did expect Siobhan Finneran to break out into ‘Mamma Mia’ at any moment.
As for our other four Lottery winners, Becky is loved up with Luke and has passed her driving test. Tom and Natalie are looking forward to the birth of their baby and settling into their new mansion. Oversized though it might have been, it really was a beautiful property and it was nice to see characters going for something other than the Essex style pads complete with swimming pool that is the norm. Best of all, Alan is back on the wagon and making plans for the Dance Academy with Rose, who even got a twirl round the dance floor.
This series Syndicate have been a thoroughly likable bunch and I’m glad Mellor decided to give them all happy endings. It’s just a shame we took such funny turns to get there. The series has been characterised by phenomenal performances from a super strong cast, but the stories have to be solid enough to warrant a programme being commissioned and I can’t fathom how this one was. Hopefully television executives will realise that drama output in this country is of a staggeringly high quality at the moment and being quite good no longer works. I don’t think there is any point in a third series of the Syndicate but I am pleased that Series 2 ended on a high note.