Last Night’s TV – Personal Affairs

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I’m not entirely sure what this show is trying to be; there are obvious SATC principles as well as the type of intrigues and bizarre mental projections often seen in Ally McBeal, but despite being marginally amusing very occasionally, it’s overall effect was a confusion of ludicrous premises and clichés.

The show follows the lives of City PAs Midge, Lucy, Grace – who mysteriously disappeared early on – and Nicole. All the women fell easily into stereotypes; Lucy the blonde-but-clever-despite-it woman, Grace the woman who could easily have actually been royalty judging by her voice and demeanour, so that’s the upper-class bird taken care of, Midge, a Scouser who’s easily bedded and full of malapropisms and finally Nicole, who’s all fur coat and no knickers, literally…

Grace went awol, presumed kidnapped or something similar, after a marriage proposal and subsequent withdrawal of that proposal from her boss, Rock. Nicole accidentally bonked Lucy’s husband Bob in the lift – she didn’t know who he was at the time – and while all that was going on, Lucy discovered she was pregnant. However, she had an opportunity to become an Associate for the bank which was a dream come true for her and Midge was achieving her own dream of fame by getting through the stages of a reality TV show with ease, until one of the bosses at the bank scuppered her chances.

Confused? Well, yes and no…

The storyline wasn’t confusing, it was just totally lacking in real substance. The writer obviously wants to make the various characters deep and interesting but what resulted was really just a tedious hour or so of trying to suspend my disbelief…

It seems that Grace is in some way connected to a plot to rob the bank of a very lot of money and its reputation. This plot was being spearheaded by weird temp Sid – who’d infiltrated the typing pool to get insider info – and a bloke called Crawford who had on a very obvious wig and was, for no reason immediately obvious, parading round under the guise of a Jew.

In the meantime, various bosses had various sexual fantasies about all the office staff going on; for example, one of the bosses was a lesbian, who again had a habit of wearing very odd wigs for no good reason, and who pictured all the PAs in femdom gear. It just made no sense and any storyline that might be hiding there amid the dross and confusion of characters was pretty much lost.

I think it says rather a lot that the BBC chose to air this new series on BBC3 in the same time slot as Occupation over on BBC1. My suspicion as to why they would do so – it’s not very usual to have two new series going head-to-head like that – is on the assumption that anyone who didn’t want to watch Occupation was probably not into current affairs or anything boring like that.

Therefore, the chances are that target audience demographic would primarily feature women who exclusively read celeb mags, love shows like SATC and spend every waking moment buying shoes or handbags. In short, the type of woman who, if you put your ear to hers, you’d only hear the sea.

If that’s the case, then it’s rather offensive but, to be fair, not that far off the mark when you consider the drivel factor of this show. It’s attempting to be a mystery, attempting to have a plot, but overall, the main appeal – if there is one – is in the personal lives of the glam PAs.

If glam and sex and mild mystery is your thing, then you might well have enjoyed this show, but if you require something more to your drama then small waists, manicured nails, titillation and only the slightest hint of something less shallow, then you won’t enjoy Personal Affairs.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.