With an ensemble show, there is almost always the feeling that someone will be sidelined, either for a more central character or for the person playing the role being more high profile.
Luckily, as we hit the halfway stage of BBC One’s In the Club, Kay Mellor’s wonderfully human writing and the skill of the core cast means that everyone feels noted and developed upon from the previous week.
Of particular note is Taj Atwal’s Jasmine, who is given notable story time in this episode as we discover more about her previous relationship with ex-colleague Jack and what impact this has for her and husband Dev (Sasha Dhawan). Dhawan and Atwal work well together and – despite the blood pressure-rising situation – also provide some much needed levity to the proceedings.
Previously I mentioned that Spooks star Hermione Norris’ character Roanna had felt more peripheral until now, so it’s nice to see her character take centre stage, engaging in a plotline that showcased her comic skill and dramatic backbone.
Most of her scenes were shared with Luke Thompson (who plays her lover Simon) and the two have a really nice soft and believable chemistry. It also expanded on Roanna’s past, only briefly touched upon so far: her ex-husband’s selfish ways, her children’s vitriol towards her for leaving them and the reality of her fractured work and home lives.
For Roanna, it’s also a big episode for many reasons as she confronts the mistakes of her past and looks forward to her future. I’m not a huge fan of this ‘birth of the week’ idea that the show has adopted, but I can see how it pushes the drama along. It also gave us that wonderful amniotic fluid sight gag, which was unexpected but very funny. Kudos must also go to guest actresses Lorraine Cheshire, who plays maternity nurse Geraldine, and Victoria Carling, who plays Simon’s mother Emma, who both shined this week.
Jill Halfpenny’s Diane is consistently mesmerising and none more so than here, playing a wealth of emotions from frustrated and exhausted to emotionally broken and bereft. The revelation that her and Rick’s (Will Mellor) premature baby girl (named Hope in this episode) may not survive allow a full dramatic range and Halfpenny does not disappoint, displaying a palpable and effective sense of loss and tragedy, and a consistently believable chemistry with Mellor.
Christine Bottomley’s part is also nicely expanded upon, but there is definitely more to learn there, and Hannah Midgely, as teen mum Rosie, is given time to reflect the genuine problems of young mums, including interference from social workers and the reality of cluelessness that can come with first time parenting.
I’ve come to really enjoy the interplay from the various women in this show, and one of the skills of the writing is that it places so many combinations of the women in each other’s company. I particularly liked how Halfpenny’s Diane and Katherine Parkinson’s Kim got a little screen time together.
What’s lovely is that these interactions seem organic and not squeezed to promote a Desperate Housewives-style sense of false togetherness. It was also great to see some home truths come out over at Kim and Susie’s (Tara Fitzgerald) as we see, for the first real time, the frictions in their relationship, the priorities of those involved and the reasons why Kim may have started something up with Neil (Jonathan Kerrigan).
Adequate screen time given to all, but with a sense that the best is yet to come, gives In the Club an edge that makes you want to come back.
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 19 August 2014 on BBC One.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know below…