Dinnerladies

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Dinnerladies (stylised as dinnerladies) was a British sitcom written, co-produced by and starring Victoria Wood. It ran on BBC One for 16 episodes from 1998 to 2000.

Contents

Plot

The show is set entirely in the canteen of HWD Components, a fictional factory in Manchester, featuring the caterers and regular customers as the main characters. The inner lives and social interactions of the mostly female, mostly middle-aged characters are vividly and amusingly depicted.

As with much of Victoria Wood's work, there is also a counterpoint of sadder themes, including deaths in the families of two of the main characters, a painful divorce, one of the characters living with cancer, one character becoming a single parent, and a long-running on-off relationship involving a great deal of heartache for the pair involved.

Production

Involving only one set throughout its run (with the exception of a quiz show set and hospital set — both seen only on a television screen in the last two episodes), Dinnerladies was entirely filmed at BBC Television Centre in front of a live studio audience. Other locations such as characters' homes and other parts of the factory are only referred to in conversation. Extreme care was taken by Victoria Wood to ensure that the set and all catering procedures were as realistic as possible, noting that to do otherwise would detract from the realism and agitate those "who are in the trade". This meant that the large revolving toaster on set was actually a real and functioning catering toaster, which had to be constantly supplied with bread, resulting in many rounds of toast being served to the audience during filming.

The jokes are generally delivered at a fast pace with dialogue usually only pausing to allow the audience's laughter to settle. Akin to the production of US sitcoms, each episode was filmed twice in front of two separate audiences, once on a Friday and again on a Saturday. This gave cast members two attempts to perfect a scene and, if necessary, the opportunity to correct mistakes without having to repeat a joke to the same audience.[1]

Cast

Main Characters

  • Brenda "Bren" Furlong (Victoria Wood) — (born 24 December 1957) The deputy manager of the canteen, and arguably the most ordinary of the characters. She had an unhappy childhood as her mother had her taken into care, and had an unhappy marriage to an alcoholic of whom she was frightened. She is very good at solving her colleagues' problems but often doubts her ability to overcome her own hardships. She is somewhat scattered, often forgetting adjectives and suggesting implausible alternatives and has a near encyclopedic knowledge of cinema which she makes many metaphorical references to. Several times in the first series it is hinted that she has feelings for Tony, though nothing comes of this until halfway through the second series.

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