Sky's epic drama about the Romans invading ancient Britain, starring Zoë as vengeful Queen Antedia, returns for a second series this autumn.


Are you ready for Girlfriends’ five-star 'humdinger of a finale'?

7 February 2018 19:31

Tonight the sixth and final episode of Zoë’s compelling TV series Girlfriends airs in the UK (ITV1, 9pm – don’t miss it!), and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be brimming with questions. Will we find out the truth about Linda and missing Micky’s marriage (which clearly hit choppy waters long before the latter went overboard)? How many more revelations are in store? Can Gail’s friendship with Sue and Linda survive?

Whatever happens to the troubled trio and their loved ones, one thing is certain: Gail and her best friends’ make-or-break trip to Spain will have us all on the edge of our seats. The TV Times, which has given the episode a glowing five-star review, emphasises that ‘in this humdinger of a finale, the shocks keep on coming’!

Making waves in the media

Of course, Girlfriends is not only fascinating but also ground-breaking, thanks to its focus on women of a certain age, who are too often overlooked on TV. So, just how significant is the series, created and written by Kay Mellor? Significant enough to have been featured on ITV’s News at Ten, as well as making waves elsewhere in the media, in the run up to its TV debut on 3 January. And the level of interest from the media and viewers alike in Gail and her pals’ trials and tribulations remains high.

Now, with the show’s all-important conclusion less than two hours away, let’s take a look at some of the most notable press coverage Girlfriends has received over the past six weeks...

Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle, Zoë explains what attracted her to the part of struggling lollipop lady Gail: ‘It is a very different role for me [...] That’s the joy of it, to challenge yourself. I love doing something I haven’t done before.’ She emphasises that there are an increasing number of opportunities for mature actresses on TV, as ‘more people recognise that older women are viable and people want to watch them’.

Girlfriends is easy for many modern women to relate to, as Zoë points out in Woman&Home. ‘The stories in this show are ‘‘Everywoman’’ to some extent. Like all women, my character, Gail, is multitasking all the time – she has a lot of other people to look after and isn’t necessarily looking after herself.’ In Saga, she talks about getting into the role, commenting, ‘You are trying to find the element that connects you to that person, and I do feel [Gail’s] pain. She’s in an extraordinarily difficult situation.’

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matthew Lewis (who plays Zoë’s wayward on-screen son Tom, having first worked with her on the original Harry Potter film) is full of praise for Zoë and her co-stars: ‘They’re all just so charming and so full of humility.’ He adds, ‘And Zoe straightaway was like, ‘‘I’ve been so looking forward to it. I was so thrilled when Kay told me you were taking this role.’’’ The casting inspired a memorable headline in the Metro, ‘Harry Potter fans are freaking out that Madam Hooch plays Neville Longbottom’s mum in Girlfriends’!

The Times calls Girlfriends ‘heartfelt, perceptive and brilliantly cast’. The series is ‘real and glorious and fun’, enthuses the Guardian. For the Observer, it’s ‘ITV’s first triumph of the year’, not least because of the trio of ‘winning, vulnerable, harried, hot-flushed and heel-breaking’ main characters (isn’t that a wonderful description!).

Authentic drama loved by viewers

The show’s popularity means that the hashtag #Girlfriends often trends on Twitter when episodes are broadcast, with viewers loving the story and performances.

Own a piece of TV history!

Earlier this week, Girlfriends’ production company, Rollem, gave fans in and around Leeds the chance to own clothes and accessories worn by Zoë and her castmates in a huge charity sale. The proceeds will benefit three worthy causes: Breast Cancer Haven, the NSPCC and Shelter. What’s more, Mellor will match the total raised.

UK DVD release and US run

While Girlfriends draws to a close in the UK today, we can look forward to every episode being released on a two-disc Region 2 DVD boxset on 26 February. (There's no word on DVD extras yet, so let's just keep our fingers crossed!) If you’d like to be in with the chance of winning a copy, check out the competitions from Female First, WhatCulture, London-Olios and Win Something.

Girlfriends has just begun its run in the US on streaming service Acorn TV and looks set to be a hit there too, with The New York Times, no less, drawing attention to it as a cultural highlight. And as US TV critic Ken Tucker points out in his Yahoo Entertainment review, ‘What could be more timely than a new show about female friendship and unity?’

With thanks to Karoline, Victoria and Janet for their help.

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