Review

  • A highly entertaining, if improbable, 6-part drama on ITV, starring Sheridan Smith as a recently separated single parent, struggling to bring up her two daughters on her low income as an office cleaner in the financial centre of London, as well as managing her growing addiction to gambling, be it lottery scratch-cards, on-line gaming or just going to the local casino to play roulette. Opportunity comes knocking for her however as she becomes aware that an employee at a city stockbroker where she cleans after-hours, who seems to work late and alone every night, is in fact part of a syndicate involved in insider-dealing. With her two work-colleague friends, she sets up a listening device in the dealer's office and uses the information to play the market for the three of them to benefit financially from investing in the hot tips picked up.

    The plot thickens however when the threesome's gravy train gets derailed after the crooked dealer is suspended on suspicion of malpractice and Smith decides to move on up by swotting up on the markets and stepping into the offending dealer's shoes as his replacement in the scam. While the idea of a lowly office cleaner carrying off such a caper is somewhat far fetched, it's written and played so well that you go along with the unlikely premise, rooting for Smith and her buddies all the way, especially at the numerous nail-biting moments when it seems her well-laid plans are about to unravel.

    There are various background sub-plots including Smith's on-off relationship with her ex-husband, who still cares for her to some degree and is concerned about her gambling addiction, likewise her two daughters, the older one in her mid teens who tries to encourage her mum to attend Gambler's Anonymous classes, the younger infant one driven to petty theft to help her struggling mum, the vulture-like loan-shark constantly badgering Smith for repayment and last but not least the geeky young entrepreneur-inventor she takes in as a lodger whose ability to make home-made listening devices is crucial to the plot.

    Sure, a lot of the plot-links are as unlikely as my winning the lottery next week and I'm not sure about the dubious morality of the ending where it seems Smith and her chums are about to continue along similar lines in their criminal ways but with a well-chosen cast all responding to the superior material and smart, non-flashy direction, this was enjoyable contemporary drama which thoroughly entertained my wife and I over its six-week run.