1 9 8 8 (UK)
7 x 30 minute episodes
At first glance, “Maggie’s Girls” looked like a brothel but turned out to be an all-purpose (and rather downmarket) modelling agency in Birmingham.
Had it not been scripted by a woman (Margaret Phelan), it might have been open to charges of male chauvinism, or at least anti-feminism since several of the girls were portrayed as Grade A bimbos, notably Veronica (Rachel Fielding).
The heroine was 16-year-old chubby-cheeked, wide-eyed Brummie schoolgirl Amanda (Sadie Frost), who was desperate to become a model. She was ripe for ripping off and had the misfortune to encounter the obligatory conman “photographer” Vincent Henry (Anthony Head) before falling in line with “Maggie’s Girls”.
Jo-Ann (Debby Bishop) was the Artful Dodger who whisked her off to the latterday Fagin’s Kitchen. Leggy brunette Susan was played by respected theatre actress (and former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company) Janet McTeer. Maggie, the boss, was played by Annie Lambert.
The girls were constantly in less-than-glamorous surroundings: Standing around in skimpy costumes on a railway station in December handing out leaflets for timeshare villas in Spain; dancing around nightclubs dressed in tinfoil tutus to show the strength and durability of ‘Shimmerfoil’; or posing with an iguana for a tropical drink commercial under a plastic palm tree in a freezing warehouse . . .
It was not a sitcom per se, and the cast was not required to play it for laughs. Neither was there a studio audience (praise the lord), so the material stood or failed on its own merits without the baying consensus that is so often off-putting.
With the rotten smell of Hardwicke House still lingering, Central Television desperately needed a good rating from this drama-with-laughs series. Sadly, the series – which premiered on Sunday 15 May 1988 – quickly attracted the bile of the critics while viewers just switched off.
Arrival | Spanners | Prints | Tarts | Meat Market | Old Fruit | Flowers