‘Secret Diary Of A Call Girl’: Series 4 Episode 8 review

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After a fairly turbulent four years, varying wildly in quality from episode to episode, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl draws to a close.

Seeming to rely solely on the fact its star spends a good portion of each story cavorting about in her small clothes, the story – such as it is – has boiled down to Belle’s put-upon boyfriend Ben asking her to give up her job, but the devilish Harry is looking to complicate matters by preying on the tensions in her relationship with Ben, as well as trying to exploit her fractured personality.

To acknowledge the fact that this is indeed the final episode of the final series, the titillation aspect of the show is dealt with fairly early on in the running time, theoretically giving way for the writers to tie up the various loose ends that have been left trailing. Unfortunately, they seem to have become a little torn between that and trying to see the series off with a series of ‘good times’ flashbacks, resulting in a rather cluttered finale, particularly given the rather sparse 22-minute runtime.

It’s competently scripted, with the visuals bathed in the series’ now trademark soft focus, giving the proceedings a luxurious edge that is rather pleasing. But perhaps the most admirable aspect of the whole thing – to give out a mild spoiler – is that the writers forgo a happy ending in lieu of a more bittersweet one. It’s fairly successful in this too, though this is entirely indebted to Billie Piper’s nuanced performance as Belle; all sultry pouts and underlying smarts permeated with a sense of fragility that is wonderfully brought to a head in the closing minutes.

The lines delivered to the camera still grate as much as they ever did – it doesn’t matter how much silk Piper drapes over her lines, breaking the fourth wall as directly as this is a tough act to pull off. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast do their very best with their relatively under-written characters, with Paul Nicholls’ performance of Harry – a rather fine blurring of the line between slick and sleaze – being the highlight among the supporting players.

Still, there’s enough conflict and it’s played with enough conviction that the story just about manages to reach a satisfactory ending in the brief time that it’s on our screens. It’s by no means outstanding, but hardly throw-away either – if nothing else, it promises that we can expect great things from Ms Piper beyond ITV2.

Airs at 10pm on Tuesday 22nd March 2011 on ITV2.

> Order the Series 4 DVD on Amazon.