This tape presents the second half of the first series of Dinnerladies
, Victoria Wood's self-penned sitcom set in a Northern works canteen. Holding it all together is Wood as Bren, well meaning, entirely guileless and not especially bright, but still an intellectual beacon besides Twinkle (Maxine Peake), who in "Moods" has reason to think she may be pregnant following an encounter with the pizza man. The episode has a star turn from Julie Walters as Bren's absolutely fabulous mum. And of course this heavily female comedy does share with Absolutely Fabulous
(1992-6) the horrors of suffering mad-mother-syndrome. Walters is back for "Party", naturally enough about the Christmas Party. This is the funniest of the three episodes, raising the non sequitur to a comic art, though "Nightshift" is surprisingly moving in an Ealing comedy "let's-all-pull-together" sort of way. This being an ensemble piece there are fine performances from all concerned, though inevitably Wood herself gives the outstanding turn and Celia Imrie is wonderful as middle-class Philippa. Laugh out loud stuff all the way, Dinnerladies
revitalised the traditional innuendo-laden sitcom with fast banter and sublime, sometimes surreal, dialogue. The The Royle Family
(1998) simultaneously offered a more docusoap-comic take on modern working class life. --Gary S. Dalkin
All 16 episodes of the BBC sitcom set in a factory canteen, written by and starring comedienne Victoria Wood. In 'Monday', the dinnerladies are unimpressed by the attempts of Philippa (Celia Imrie) - the new 'HR' woman - to motivate them. 'Scandal' sees the factory visited by a television crew making a docu-soap. In 'Royals', the canteen goes into overdrive when it is announced that HRH Prince James is to pay them a visit. In 'Moods', tensions run high in the canteen and Stan (Duncan Preston) seeks solace by locking himself in the loo. 'Party' sees Bren (Victoria Wood) dolling herself up for the Japanese-themed Christmas party, but will tonight be her night? In 'Night Shift', the staff walk out in protest at the methods employed by Tony's (Andrew Dunn) stand-in canteen supervisor, Nicola Bodeux (Sue Wallace). In 'Catering', Bren has her work cut out when a team of decorators, who are supposed to be painting the canteen over the weekend, arrive early. In 'Trouble', Jean (Anne Reid) is struggling to cope with the fact that her husband has run off with a younger woman. 'Holidays' sees Bren looking forward to going to Marbella with Tony. In 'Fog', Bren has a bad day, not helped by a visiting blood donor unit, a prisoner on the run - and a compromising photo taken by Tony on holiday. 'Gamble' finds the dinner ladies looking forward to Christmas - but Bren's festive plans are unambitious to say the least. In 'Christmas', Bren and Tony are having problems, and Bren considers handing in her notice at work. 'Minnellium' sees Philippa getting herself into a tizzy over the factory's New Year celebrations. In 'Christine', a new employee comes to replace Anita, but her chronic flatulence causes more than a few problems in her new workplace. 'Gravy' sees Petula (Julie Walters) delivering some shocking news. Finally, in 'Toast', Bren's success on 'Totally Trivial' has healed the rift between her and Tony. But the canteen's future could be in jeopardy...