Up the Women

Up the Women

‘Millicent Fawcett who?’, mouths the women’s suffrage campaigner, Gwen. Yes, poor Margaret, played by Jessica Hynes, is still struggling to lead her team in the struggle for equal rights. Of course, this is made harder by her barmy Banbury-based suffragettes still struggling to understand what they’re campaigning for.

This is part of the charm of this studio sitcom which is set in 1910 and follows a group of women’s suffrage campaigners. Although the ditzy, and often clueless, women are fully behind Margaret’s campaign, they’re still women of their time, and some of them struggle to see the real benefits of women’s rights.

Everyone is a real send-up of archetypal characters from 19th and early 20th century literature, and although stereotyped to the nth degree, it works well with Jessica Hynes’s style of writing.

The show is rather ridiculous, and it’s certainly leans more towards the writing of Graham Linehan, than the surreal satires of Chris Morris. Jessica Hynes performs excellently, as do the rest of the cast. However at times the jokes can seem straight out of a sitcom from the 1990s, and although there were some real gems back then, their lines just don’t seem appropriate for the modern day, nor the 1910 setting of the sitcom. Thankfully this is fairly sporadic, but it really stops the show from reaching its peak.

After nearly a two year break, not much has really changed, although there appears to be no sign of Adrian Scarborough as of yet. The wonderful Rebecca Front will be returning as the grumpy antagonist, a woman who is so against the women’s suffrage that she proclaims to have ‘married for everything but love’.

A nice addition to Series 2, even if only for a single episode, is Tom Stourton, who is most recognisable from various BBC3 comedy ventures, and being one half of comedy duo Totally Tom. Ryan Sampson is also back as Thomas, the only male member of the team, who often proves to also be the only truly committed person to the cause.

Overall, it’s good fun with some silly characters who bounce off each other well. Jessica Hynes has done a fine job of satirising such a serious part of history, while still holding on to her unique writing style.

Up The Women will be on BBC Two at 10:15pm, on Wednesday 21st January.