Thelma’s Gypsy Girls Episode Three: Thelma’s absence creates friction between Victoria and Lily Ann and puts her staff under stress.
There was a moment in tonight’s episode of Thelma’s Gypsy Girls in which a brow-beaten Thelma looks into the camera stating that ‘it’s not like I thought it would be.’ and I have to say I agree with her because, after a promising start, the programme about her apprenticeship scheme for young traveller girls as reverted to easy stereotypes.
We’re now into the fifth week of the course, and as we are informed by the narrator, the girls haven’t progressed nearly as much as she would’ve like them to as they’re still struggling with basic sewing skills. This week, Thelma also makes the decision to try and get the girls some basic education so that they can at least have a certificate at the end of the process if the dress-maker doesn’t decide to give them a job.
After getting turned down by a college who wouldn’t give her funding, she instead has to dip further into her funds to hire Sarah a tutor who has some pressing concerns about the girls, namely Roseanne who as we see can’t even put the alphabet in order and as we are told by her new teacher she has the learning skills of a reception age child.
Though it seems that a breakthrough is made as one of the girls comes to Thelma with a maths book in which she has got all of her sums correct, unfortunately successes don’t make for good television while revelations and arguments do.
First off there was the discovery that one of the girls, Shannon, was only fifteen so was illegally working full-time hours, however Thelma decided that she would try to fight for Shannon’s place on the course despite her age. I personally believe that Thelma has given Shannon far too many chances, last week she overthrew her decision to ban her completely from the course for sticking pins in Bridget’s leg, I think the only reason she is so lenient towards her is because her family were the first ever travellers to ask her to design a dress for them.
As well as training the girls up, Thelma is still running an incredibly busy business, so with orders to fill, she enlists the girls to help her add diamantes onto a dress but inevitably problems ensue although the dress is finished on time. The combination of the growing problems with the girls as well as the never-ending string of orders to fill finally gets to Thelma and on the first morning of the sixth week, she refuses to open the shutters to her factory instead sitting with her hand on her head looking a shadow of the woman who so bright and breezy in episode one. Making the decision to go home and try to get better, she leaves the factory and her training scheme in the hands of her staff most of whom didn’t want to be part of the process to begin with.
Without Thelma’s presence, the girls become more and more undisciplined and rowdy with old feuds coming to ahead as well as new ones surfacing. As we saw last week, educated English traveller Bridget and rowdy Margaret almost came to blows with the former giving off an air that she was better than the rest of the girls which irritated the rest of them. This week, after an argument about whose turn it was to use a certain sewing machine, the two almost came to blows with Bridget, running out of the factory and eventually going home while Margaret was suspended from the course after more than one staff member had had enough of her, though this wasn’t the only argument brewing.
Unbeknownst to us the Rottweiler-like Victoria, and the petite born again Christian Lily-Ann had also been involved in a rumbling feud as they both live on the same site with neither getting on with the other for years. Problems erupted when Victoria’s cousin Megan was about to become the new tenth girl in the scheme, however this had made Victoria more rowdy accusing Lily-Ann of looking at her funny before almost walloping her after an argument in the taxi that they shared to get back home.
To me Lily-Ann, who is about to marry her boyfriend, hadn’t done anything wrong but Victoria’s two goals were to get a job and punch Lily-Ann’s lights out with the threat of death hanging over Lily-Ann if she got the job over Victoria. Personally, Megan’s recruitment doesn’t make any sense as it seems clear to me that the producers would’ve known about the feud between Lily-Ann and Victoria, so essentially wanted to add more fuel to the fire by hiring the latter’s cousin to be part of the show. If they’d wanted to hire a girl to solve problems instead of cause them, what they should’ve done is to hire another English traveller, preferably one that stayed on at school till she was 16, so Bridget would have at least one ally in the factory.
In Thelma’s absence, her right-hand woman Pauline seemed to be running things, however Pauline’s daughter Leanne had other ideas which infuriated Pauline so much that she as well left to cool off. Meanwhile, the newest tutor for the girls, sewing mistress Paula, also didn’t get off to a very good start with the girls who didn’t like her flippant attitude where she would talk back to the girls who were given her lip. There was a rather bizarre scene where Paula admitted to being a glue-gun virgin which all the girls, bar Bridget, found completely hilarious as they believed an adult shouldn’t be using words like that. Eventually, Thelma returned to try to bring harmony back to the workplace and she momentarily got Victoria and Lily-Ann to at least be civil to each other however after calling Victoria’s mum to try to sort things out she got a torrent of abuse herself before the phone was slammed down on her.
As a programme, Thelma’s Gypsy Girls is rapidly going down in my estimations due to the fact that the producers only want to focus on the negative elements of the process rather than the positives. Sure, we did get to see the girls work together to make a dress sparkle and some succeed with the academic side of things, but overall this was all shouting and tense atmospheres. Adding another feud onto the on-going Bridget/Margaret war just seemed like overkill, with Victoria in particular just grating as a character while the only people I felt sorry for where Thelma’s staff who were seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Logic would dictate that every episode these girls would at least learn a new skill however it seems that Thelma’s Gypsy Girls is more interested with increasing the image that all gypsies are uncultured and violent, rather than dispelling it, so all I can say is thank God it’s the last episode next week where no doubt everybody will graduate with flying colours.
What do you think of Thelma’s Gypsy Girls? Is it grating on you as much is it is me? Leave Your Comments Below.
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