Two middle-age crazy English widows become best friends via letters, over many misadventure-filled years. Having met under a table at a wedding, when both were drunk with merriment, ... See full summary »
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2010   2009  
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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Vera Small (20 episodes, 2009-2010)
...
 Irene Spencer (20 episodes, 2009-2010)
Morag Siller ...
 Karen Small (16 episodes, 2009-2010)
Daniel Crowder ...
 Howard Small / ... (14 episodes, 2009-2010)
...
 Anthony (11 episodes, 2009-2010)
Jada Wallace-Mitchell ...
 Sabrina / ... (10 episodes, 2010)
...
 Lesley Spencer / ... (9 episodes, 2010)
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Storyline

Two middle-age crazy English widows become best friends via letters, over many misadventure-filled years. Having met under a table at a wedding, when both were drunk with merriment, misunderstanding comes naturally to them. The ladies and their kin act out the events in the letters: in their homes, prison or wherever else they land, revealing the hilarious, venomous, or empathetic truth, between their ever-increasing lines. Based on a 13 year long BBC 4 radio series, which originated from books by directors/actresses Carole Hayman ("Rides") and Lou Wakefield ("Firm Friends"), who also wrote the TV series. Co-star Anne Reid was also in the radio series. Written by David Stevens

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3 February 2009 (UK)  »

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£100,000 (estimated)
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Connections

Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 13 April 2010 (2010) See more »

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Why Deliberately Ruin A Classic?
18 February 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Now I'm a fan of the books, which began the whole Ladies of Letters experience, and an even larger fan of the radio 'plays' performed by Patricia Routledge and Prunella Scales which are classic examples of witty British humour.

So to see this on TV I went out of my way to tune in, with the knowledge that even matching the quality of the Radio shows would be a hard task, let alone any chance of surpassing.

To put it short, they've ruined it. I can't wholly blame the performers Maureen Lipman as Irene and Anne Reid as Vera, because so much of the damage has been done by rewriting the scripts- making the 2 ladies more vicious and nasty. This has been done by rewording large passages and making the show less subtle. Now while I'll let other decide if this is needed for the TV transition, personally within five minutes of watching I was asking myself 'Why are these two even writing to each other? They obviously hate each other?' whereas in the confines of Radio & Book, the 2 are friends who fall out. The TV versions are more likely to cross the street and hide if they see the other coming. It may be a small complaint, but it makes the whole set up of the show feel tired before its even begun.

As for Lipman & Reid, they do little to help. Reid is inoffensive as she simply appears to be mimicking Routledge's radio performances, where as Lipman butchers the role. She is so unpleasant as that character that you positively dislike her. Part of the Ladies of Letters charm is based on the fact that you like the 2 characters, but enjoy the miscommunication between the 2. Lipman makes that impossible here.

In short, don't bother. If you know the originals this won't add to them (in fact it runs the risk of damaging them), and if you don't then I suggest you just go to the original source material.


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