I was delighted when I heard that Prisoners’ Wives was coming back and even more so when I was invited along to the screening to find out what's new in the second series and how has the series moved on.
First of all, this series is shorter than the last at just 4 episodes and takes place two weeks after the first series ended and there's no easing you back into the story though.
With fewer episodes and two new characters to introduce, the only way Prisoners' Wives could have done was to thrown us straight into the action and that's exactly what they've done. And then I guess the next big bit of news to report is that gone are Gemma and Lou whose stories came to a natural end at the end of the first series. And instead the show has two brand new characters in the form of Kim and Aisling.
First of all, let's talk a bit about Kim, played by Sally Carman (Shameless). She has a nice family, a perfect housewife with three kids and a seemingly loving husband. Of course, this all changes and not long into the first episode her life turns into a much deeper story as her husband is accused of peadophilia, a claim he obviosuly denies.
At the screening of Episode 1, everyone had their own theories. Is this all a big setup from the neighbours from hell? Is he guilty but with another child? His own maybe? Are we going to be led down the 'he's innocent' line to later discover he actually guilty? Who knows? I certainly don't, but this is one storyline that is set to run and run. Here's to the end of Episode 4!
The second new character is Aisling, played by Karla Crome (Lightfields). Less of a wife and more of a daughter, a daughter of a repeat offender of course. Aged only 18, Aisling is the younger of the Prisoners' 'wives', and one who perhaps has the most riding on her loved one's exit from prison. Why? Because she's getting married and desperately wants her dad to be there? Will he? Who knows? But my money is that he doesn't. Her story throughout the series is all about exploring the relationship she has with her father and how it affects her in the outside world.
Much like Emma Rigby's character in the last series there appears to be many layers to her and I'm sure through the great team and the great writing behind Prisoners' Wives, her story is one that will just grow and grow leading to, I'm sure, a pretty explosive final episode.
Adam Gillen (Benidorm) & Pippa Haywood (Mr Selfridge) are back in their roles as Gavin and Harriet. Probably the greatest transformation in the new series is Gavin, who previously was a shy, nervy individual becomes more one of the team and mixes a lot more with the 'big boys'. Oh and he wants to convert to being a muslim too. Harriet who was last seen rolling around on the grass with the vicar rekindles that relationship in Series 2 and is ready to take it to the next level? Is this a level the vicar is willing to take it too? I couldn't possibly tell but she does bring some much needed comic relief to the series.
Returning, of course, is fabulous Gangster's wife Francesca, played by Polly Walker whose life hasn't really changed much since the first time around. Still getting involved in her husband's dodgy business, she finds herself in compromising situations such as in Episode 1, when she finds herself in the back of the car, witnessing a murder and then forced to remove her clothes in case of any evidence. It's fair to say she's not had an easy life and will do anything for her husband, despite how uncomfortable she may feel doing it.
I absolutely love her performance in Prisoners' Wives, she brings so much feistiness to the table and is a no nonsense woman who at times appears vulnerable, and it's those many layer she has to her character that endear me to her. One last thing to note is that Anne Reid (Last Tango In Halifax), also stars in this series and whilst she only appears for the final minute, if that, of the first episode she does so perfectly and you just know she's going to turn out to be a real character.
Sure there's been a lot of great drama of late but Prisoners' Wives arrives just at the right time. With Mayday, Ripper Street, Mr Selfridge and a few others now finished settling in to Prisoners' Wives on a Thursday night is a real treat. Will there be a third series? I guess it's too early to tell, but coming back with two new characters, equally compelling stories as the first series, if not more so, Prisoners' Wives has shown that it's a series that can run and run and I for one hope it does.