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Prisoners' Wives

Thu Mar 21, 9-10pm, BBC1

Series two, episode two
Cautionary tales abound as series two gets into its stride: as things worsen for Kim and Matt, the message is clear – don’t get mixed up with Asbo families and their manipulative children. For Francesca too, it’s a case of wishing things were very different as she gets realises the ramifications of husband Paul’s actions. And things are getting more complicated for Harriet, whose naivety shows no sign of flagging as her poor son gets into deeper water with the bullies demanding money from him.

The complexity of the separate stories keeps the pace up nicely and characterisations are impressively strong, but it’s the ensemble acting that really makes this stand out. Across the board, we feel the desperation and sadness of the wives’ lives, the disappointment of a daughter whose father has never been there for her, and, thanks to the standout performance of Sally Carman, the despair of watching your family torn apart by vicious lies and the fear of a community.