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Posts Tagged ‘Happy Valley’

This week has been about recognition of strong women – Thursday was International Women’s Day and today is Mothering Sunday in the UK.

Make no mistake, motherhood is definitely not for sissies; especially for those women who are raising the children (and sometimes, grandchildren) all on their own due to divorce or widowhood. Their grit, persistence and fierce love is inspiring.

Here are just a few examples of tough telly mums:

Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes) – The Durrells in Corfu

A widow and mother of four, Louisa takes a leap of faith to start a new life for her family in Greece. It’s a daily struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, never mind maintaining the animal sanctuary her youngest child has established.

Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) – Happy Valley

A 47 year old police officer, Catherine is divorced, lives with her sister who’s a recovering heroin addict, has two grown up children; one dead and one who doesn’t speak to her, and a grandson.

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Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) – Peaky Blinders

When she became a widow, Polly had her children removed from her care. She’s recently been reunited with her son Michael who made the choice, contrary to his mother’s wishes, to join of her crime syndicate family.

bbc two peaky6 GIF by BBC

DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman)- Broadchurch

Ellie is divorced and a working mother of two. First she had to come to grips with the fact that her husband was a murderer. Then her teenage son starts peddling porn. This mum is not a happy camper.

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Violet Crawley, The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) – Downton Abbey

The no-nonsense matriarch of an aristocratic family, the Dowager’s main concern is keeping her family’s reputation and fortunes intact. She expresses her love in blunt, but constructive terms.

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In today’s Five for Friday, I want to highlight female police officers from the telly. In the course of investigating this topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s bloody difficult being a lady copper. Getting ahead for any officer, man or woman requires lots of overtime, abundant talent and seemingly blind ambition.

The classic example of this is, of course, Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect. Her rise through the ranks is fraught with male peers bent on seeing her fail, an inability to maintain a lasting romantic relationship and a growing reliance on alcohol.

And while attitudes and opportunities have improved somewhat over the years, the balance of home and work is still a major challenge for women in law enforcement. Let’s meet a few of these determined gals intent on competing in a male-dominated field.

WPC 56 – Gina Dawson

Jennie Jacques as WPC Dawson image credit BBC Productions Birmingham

Jennie Jacques as WPC Dawson
image credit BBC Productions Birmingham

It’s 1956 and Gina is a freshly minted WPC (Woman Police Constable) who has taken up a new post in her West Midlands home town as the only female officer on the local force. She’s met with derision from most of her new colleagues as they expect her to file, make tea and comfort the women and children whom the male officers encounter in their investigations. To top it off her, mother just wants her to quit her job and marry her dull, self-centered fiance. Chauvinism abounds, but WPC Dawson is dedicated to her career and the public she’s sworn to serve. With the help of a few supporters at the station, Gina slowly wins over the others with her patience and resolve.

 

The Gentle Touch – DI Maggie Forbes

Jill Gascoine as DI Maggie Forbes  image credit London Weekend Television

Jill Gascoine as DI Maggie Forbes
image credit London Weekend Television

Flash ahead to 1980 and we meet DI Maggie Forbes, the first female police detective character featured in a British television series. DI Forbes moved up through the department only to be struck a significant blow – being widowed and left to raise her teenage son alone. A forerunner to the aforementioned Jane Tennison, Maggie juggles discrimination on the job and family obligations like a strong working mother of the 80’s. She also rocks a pretty impressive perm.

 

Happy Valley –Sergeant Catherine Cawood

Sarah Lancashire as Sgt. Catherine Cawood image credit Red Production Company and BBC

Sarah Lancashire as Sgt. Catherine Cawood
image credit Red Production Company and BBC

Catherine is a police sergeant in a gritty Yorkshire town where drugs and its associated problems are an uphill battle for local officers. Cawood is no spring chicken, but she’s one tough cookie taking as good as she gets from local law breakers. Her home life is challenging as she lives with her sister who is a recovering heroin addict and is raising the troubled grandson her daughter left behind after her suicide.   Now she’s investigating a kidnap case that is closer to home than she could ever realize and will put her work and personal worlds on a collision course.

No Offence –DI Vivienne Deering

Joanna Scanlan as DI Vivienne Deering image credit Abbott Vision

Joanna Scanlan as DI Vivienne Deering
image credit Abbott Vision

Vivienne is a boss with a sharp tongue and a tough love approach to management. She expects exemplary work and conduct from her team of Manchester Police Department detectives. She can let down her hair from time to time, but she, like many police officers, is the job and this work ethic is affecting her marriage. With threats from the powers that be, Viv pushes her crew to crack a sensitive serial murder case. However, when she discovers the horrible truth, her commitment to justice takes a back seat.

 

Undercover – DS Zoe Keller

Sarah Alexander as DS Zoe Keller image credit Baby Cow Productions and Bonafide Films

Sarah Alexander as DS Zoe Keller
image credit Baby Cow Productions and Bonafide Films

I wanted to include a lighter element to this list so I give you DS Zoe Keller. She’s a handler for an undercover operation trying to infiltrate the inner circle of an infamous Armenian crime family. DS Keller is eager to redeem herself after a disastrous ending to her last assignment, but the undercover officer she supervising is a newbie, just transferred from traffic duty. Her judgement is frequently  clouded by her ambition; however, Undercover is a comedy so, fear not, she and her protegee will find their way out of trouble… eventually

I know what you’re saying. Where are Scott & Bailey, Vera, Ellie from Broadchurch, the Juliet Bravo ladies, and The Commander? Well, they were all contenders initially, but I attempted to choose representatives from different eras or of varying ranks and situations. This is Five for Friday after all and not everyone can make the cut. Please feel free to talk about any of your favorite British ladies with a badge in the comments!

 

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I’m not ashamed to say it. I turned the big 5-0 today. And since aging is an inevitable fact of life, I say you might as well embrace it. Otherwise you end up sitting in the dark, gently rocking back and forth and wondering where the good old days went.

Just to put this milestone in telly perspective, 50 years ago saw the the debut of Till Death Us Do Part, Jackanory and The Magic Roundabout.

The Magic Roundabout is as old as me.  image credit BBC

The Magic Roundabout is as old as me.
image credit BBC

 

British celebrities who will or have already joined me in the quinquagenarian club this year include James Nesbitt, Alan Cumming, Joely Richardson, Julia Ormond, Steve Coogan and Anna Chancellor.

And though the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Tom Jones all appeared at the top of the charts in 1965, Ken Dodd, a more than slightly odd-looking chap I’ve never heard of, had the #1 single in the UK that year.

 

When approaching such an emotionally charged age, I’ve decided the best way forward is to look for good role models. I’ve settled on a balanced mix, I think, the first being a no-nonsense career woman who faces each challenge head on.

Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lanchashire) of Happy Valley image credit BBC and Red Production Co

Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lanchashire) of Happy Valley
image credit BBC and Red Production Co

 

My second example of what 50 can be is the young-at-heart care home worker, Derek.

 

Yes, this year I resolve to be a  50 year old bad ass man-child. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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