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No Angels review | No viewers

Published by jamdog on 29th March, 2004.

 No Angels review

No Angels

Channel 4

Having survived the controversy that greeted its first season No Angels returns for its sophomore effort. The early days of the show were plagued by accusations of portraying nurses as boozing, shagging maniacs. This was a delight for the show’s producers who were guaranteed column inches as the nation’s hacks debated the extent to which the nursing profession was merely a dumping ground for those who didn’t get round to forming a band with Courtney Love.

"And we all know nurses get paid far too much for being what is essentially a glorified pill dispenser and wheelchair pusher."

I’ve worked on hospital wards and I can confirm that the stereotype is true. I’ve never had so much ass in my life. Shooting fish in a barrel doesn’t begin to cover it. And we all know nurses get paid far too much for being what is essentially a glorified pill dispenser and wheelchair pusher.

"These days she’s more likely to be banging junior registrars two at a time."The notion of the overpaid, stressed-out Florence weeping into a pillow in her bedsit is outdated. These days she’s more likely to be banging junior registrars two at a time, drinking champagne cocktails and selling morgue photos to the gutter press. Highly talented administrators now do the difficult parts of the nurses’ job (bed management, personnel work, liaising with Hospital Trust filth) so the nurse merely has to know how to change a dressing and fake sobriety until the shift’s over and then the party begins. The patients can go hang while she changes out of her uniform and into her party gear, oblivious to the fevered cries around her. And why wouldn’t she? Nobody likes a martyr, after all.

So let’s have less of this ‘inaccurate stereotypes’ talk. Inaccuracy is not the problem with No Angels – it’s just a little bit dreary. It wants to be shocking, warm and funny but it rarely achieves any of those things. The Sex and the City format of four central characters has had women up and down the country asking: which one are you? Perhaps you’re the ugly, sexually incontinent, obnoxious, unfunny, prostitute…

Beth (Jo Joyner) – her avaricious man-hating doesn’t seem to have a context. It seems to come from nowhere and be tacitly accepted as her being "feisty". But she isn’t funny, charming, confused or conflicted. She’s just a turd – a mediocrity who is unpleasant TV company. No matter. Maybe you’re…

Lia (Louise Delamere) – the single mother is the hard-bitten, cynical one of the group. A bit like Beth but more intelligent and less unbearable. Her hard-bitten, cynical daughter who regularly guests is a pain in the balls like all kids who are portrayed as wise beyond their years. But if modern lone parenting isn’t your bag then…

"She’s klutzy but she’s determined. She’s gorgeous but can’t seem to find a man."

Kate (Kaye Wragg) – who is the responsible mother figure of the group. Kate is the human face of No Angels, the one you’re least likely to slap. She’s klutzy but she’s determined. She’s gorgeous but can’t seem to find a man. Oh look, she’s somewhere between Ally McBeal and Private Benjamin – you’ll think she’s great. If not, and you fancy being a clumsily written ethnic-minority cardboard cut-out then go with

Anji (Sunetra Sarker) – the fun-loving Asian care assistant. In a remarkable turn of events, the writers spent the first series shoe-horning her into an arranged marriage storyline. An Asian girl and arranged marriage – I thought there was an embargo on that type of thing? Such a lazy cliche needs to be devastatingly well-written to give it a new twist. It wasn’t.

"Driven along by the thumping Sixties soundtrack, it’s amoral and carefree one minute then all hugs and lessons the next."It’s not that No Angels is terrible. You get the odd funny line, occasionally engaging sexual tension and the farcical elements are often played well. It’s just that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It’s stuck somewhere between Holby City and Green Wing. There isn’t a real consistency of tone where you can point to something and say "that’s a real No Angels moment". Driven along by the thumping Sixties soundtrack, it’s amoral and carefree one minute then all hugs and lessons the next.

Aerial Telly advises it to just take the plot of a Teachers script, copy it and repeat and rinse, changing the heads on the characters for each episode. That’s what Teachers have been doing since season two after all.

The best thing about it: Kaye Wragg is a very fine slice of pie.

The worst thing about it: Jo Joyner has a face you wouldn’t tire of slapping in a hurry

The verdict on No Angels: Won’t make it to season three

Marks out of 10: 5 .5

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Tags: Categories: British comedy British drama

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