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Modern tales of ordinary lives, morality and deception

BBC One’s new drama Ordinary Lies tries to present modern day morality tales about duplicity—but can itself seem a bit unbelievable, writes Ellie May

Issue No. 2445

Jason Manford in Ordinary Lies

Jason Manford in Ordinary Lies

Do you ever wonder how the “ordinary lies” people tell in social situations could spin out of control? Well, writer Danny Brocklehurst’s new drama Ordinary Lies tries to explore just that. 

The show is set in a car showroom in Warrington. Each episode follows the life of a different character and looks at their relationships in and outside of work.

In the first one we’re introduced to salesperson Marty McLean (Jason Manford) who’s hungover and late for work. 

Different scenes seem to provide snapshots of ordinary social situations. Rushing downstairs to the kitchen, he finds his wife, Katrina (Erin Shanagher), and their two children. Marty pushes Katrina out of the way to grab some breakfast. 

He then tries to address his kids with a mixture of the “tough guy” dad act and awkward enthusiasm, with promises of playing with them  on the Xbox. 

When Marty gets to work, he has to crawl beneath the windows so no one realises he’s late.  


Unluckily, his boss Mike (Max Beesley) sees him on the security cameras. He’s dragged into the office and put on his final warning. The next day Martin is late again. Initially he takes it out on Katrina, shouting, “Why didn’t you wake me up?”

He can’t face losing his job, so  phones from the showroom gates claiming his wife has died. But despite his best efforts, Marty can’t keep up the lie forever as it begins to consume his life. 

We also see a future plot developing. The HR head Beth’s (Jo Joyner) husband has been missing for a year, but now she starts receiving unidentified phone calls.

Mike’s marriage is also falling apart, and it looks something might develop between them. 

But everyone here is hiding a lie. Brocklehurst explained that, “They are all modern morality tales. Every single episode, without being preachy, is a story about an aspect of modern life.”

The show does deal with ordinary people and the pressures that modern life puts us under.

But it tries too hard to be “ordinary”, and the plot can sometimes come across as contrived.

Ordinary Lies. BBC One. Tuesday, 9pm


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Article information

Tue 17 Mar 2015, 17:35 GMT
Issue No. 2445
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