GOOD reviews this morning for Sarah Parish in new BBC1 drama series Mistresses.
Her performance as GP Katie (pictured) was described as “excellent” by The Guardian and “reliable” by The Times.
The TV critics responsible for those reviews, along with another from the Daily Telegraph, weren’t so kind about the drama itself.
But then all three are men.
Personally, I think six-part series Mistresses is a highly watchable piece of entertainment, perfect for dark and gloomy January nights.
It also appears to be a hit, with 4.9m viewers making it the most watched programme on all the channels at 9pm last night.
Director and co-creator SJ Clarkson said: “We knew we would instantly be compared to shows like Sex And The City and Desperate Housewives, both of which I think are brilliant.
“However, we wanted to do something different.”
At the press launch for Mistresses, Sarah explained how Life On Mars director SJ had helped the four leading actresses with their roles.
“When we came to rehearsals, she’d given us all a colour palette to work from, if you like. And a whole list of reasons why we did what we did, our little personality traits.
“If we ever got stuck, we could go to a thing called an emotional toolbox that you would open and it would say – if Katie does this, it’s probably because she feels this. Or if Katie says this, this is actually what she means.
“It was the most incredibly researched thing I’d ever seen. She’d done all our homework for us, basically.
“And there were lots and lots of discussions about how we’d met and how we knew each other. So when we came to actually filming the series, we felt quite solid in our friendships.”
Directors play a crucial role in the success of TV dramas, even if most viewers just see them as a name flashing by on the end credits.
Attention to detail is everything, as SJ explained in Life On Mars: The Official Companion Volume Two.
She wrote about directing the scene in the final episode, with Sam Tyler (John Simm) on the roof of a 2007 Manchester office block.
Whether you realised it or not, there was a direct link to the scene in the very first episode – directed by Bharat Nalluri – when Sam woke up on a 1973 wasteground.
“I felt not only duty bound but a sheer necessity to mirror what Bharat had done in the opening of the first series. We had to bookend it,” said SJ.
“I timed the tracking shot Bharat used around Sam when he first woke up in 1973 – 37 seconds – and shot mine for the same length, but moving the camera in the opposite direction.
“Bharat started with a tight shot on Sam’s face and then zoomed out; I started wide and zoomed in.
“I wanted to give it a full circle, make it feel like one big story with the coda at the end where he goes back to 1973.”
Just one example of the thought and skill that goes into making a hit TV series.
Mistress Of Her New Role
Life On Mars: The Closing Chapters
S.J. Clarkson At The Internet Movie Database