Age Before Beauty may not be cutting edge, but it's a good slice of honest drama

Life can be messy, can't it. You think you've got things sorted '“ the kids are all grown and off to uni, the husband's business is doing well, you're ready to go back to work '“ and then the sky falls in on you.

Friday, 3rd August 2018, 4:25 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd August 2018, 4:28 pm
From left, Robson Green, Polly Walker, Kelly Harrison, and James Murray star in the new BBC drama from Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield, Age Before Beauty

Sometimes, you just need to exercise a bit of self-care, and head down to the beauty salon for some pampering.

Only, if it’s anything like the Mirrorbel salon in Age Before Beauty (BBC1, Tuesdays, 9pm), their lives are more messed up than anything you can come up with.

Written by Debbie Horsfield (Poldark and Making Out), Age Before Beauty is a bit like her earlier hit, Cutting It, mixed with a hefty pinch of Cold Feet.

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Like Cutting It, the series centres around the staff –mainly women – of a Manchester beauty salon.

Like Cold Feet, it centres on relationships, and how these can break down or flourish under different pressures.

It has the same, slightly soft-focus, camerawork and exposed brick and chrome aesthetic of Cold Feet, as well as the mix of comedy and drama, and good old northern salt-of-the-earth types.

It’s not so convincing though.

The plot is a little well-worn, shall we say.

And it doesn’t have the same confidence to go off on flights of fancy like Cold Feet does, while some of the drama strains credulity – since when have you known a tradesman to start work immediately after giving you a quote.

And who considers two weeks on Windermere a romantic break?

A weekend, maybe, but two weeks?

However, there’s a neat reversal as an extra-marital affair is uncovered, and the cast is a dream.

I might just give it one more go, before I head off to get my roots done.

Travels in Trumpland with Ed Balls (BBC2, Sundays, 9pm) was a trip through the right-leaning heartland of America, with the Trump supporters being treated with a deal more empathy than we’re used to.

A more disturbing view of the Americas came in Meet The Drug Lords: Inside the Real Narcos (Channel 4, Thursdays, 9pm). Ex-soldier Jason Fox revealed the high cost of a western drug habit, as he joined the ultraviolent drug gangs of Mexico.