English screenwriter Kay Mellor OBE returns with a new five-part drama called The Syndicate which follows five co-workers at Right Buy U, a supermarket in Leeds.
The series explores how each of their lives change as a result of joint £18million win on the lottery! A rags to riches story for the 21st century is how I like to sum it up!
The series has a great cast including Timothy Spall (Harry Potter, The Street, Sweeney Todd) plays supermarket boss Bob. Bob is a nice guy, father figure type who the workers look up to as a father figure as is evident with the way he responds to Stuart's money problems in episode one.
As mentioned in a previous post, I am a big fan of Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey) and in The Syndicate she plays the role of Leanne Powell, a Welsh mother to daughter Stacey (I know what you're thinking, the name of her most known character) who has recently moved to Leeds and now works at Right Buy U.
Lorraine Bruce (Benidorm, Come Fly With Me, Life's Too Short) definitely adds the comedy factor to the series. Her character Denise adores dogs, her mother and her husband, who has sent several texts to the same number in the past month. Denise doesn't instantly jump to the same conclusions that many would, i.e. her husband is having an affair. This innocence and almost childlike nature is part of the characters charm as is her choice of fashion, mainly clothes from charity shops.
Matthew McNulty (Misfits) adds the drama to the series, playing Stuart Bradley the store's Assistant Manager. In the first episode we see him become a father with serious money problems and wants to do all he can to support his new family and move them into a new flat. He can't even afford the pound he owes Denise for a lottery ticket, much to her annoyance!
Stuart's brother Jamie is played by Matthew Lewis. Jamie has a vendetta against the world and feels lets down by everyone and everything. Probably the darkest character in the series, he doesn't react well to not having any money and we can already see how arrogant and extravagant he will become now he has a £4 million share of the jackpot.
As the series goes one we are going to learn more about his past and begin to empathise with him over the way he is.
In the first episode we saw the supermarket workers were told they had a month before they would be knocked down in favour of Newbury's a new building with underground parking and a restaurant.
It's clear from the beginning how desperate Stuart and Jamie are for money as they plan to steal from the store and stage a burglary, but it's the store manager Bob who is left fighting for his life.
Stuart feels awful about the whole situation and confront his brother Jamie about this. However, the arguing is soon turned on its head when Denise came around to announce that they had won the lottery sending the whole house into jubilation!
I really enjoyed the first episode and I think what makes The Syndicate good and gives it legs is that, it not only charts five supermarket workers from rags to riches. It's the underlying story that's really important, as all the characters appear to have something they are hiding and I'm interested to see how this will play out throughout the series.
Each episode is said to focus on one character's story, this week was Stuart's story and next week for example we will learn more of Denise and the trouble she finds herself in when her husband Dave decides to leave her.
One that I am most looking forward to is Leanne's. Leanne is one of those characters I feel has a lot more to her than what is on the surface. When Leanne discovers that she has won the lottery, she is adamant for her name and face not to be in the papers. Why is this? Perhaps she has something to hide, a past she'd much rather keep back in Wales. I suppose only time will tell but it certainly seems that way. When questioned by Stuart about whether she had any family back in Wales she hesitated and then answered no.
Also towards the end of the first episode when the workers faced the press and were each asked for their names, Leanne was the last to give hers, and even when she did she deliberately didn't mention her surname, making the audience question her not disclosing personal information even further.
I for one am really looking forward to the next episode and am keen to see how the series plays out. Now the establishing of characters and the lottery win are out of the way it should make the episodes even more interesting adding yet more layers to what already is a well constructed world and interesting characters. Of course, this is mainly down to the genius that is Kay Mellor who has never failed to deliver great television drama.