Listen. The last time I wrote on this Blog was nearly 4 years ago when I was busy in my little stylish world. Then I met some bloke who I got on well with and within a year, we got married. So I’ve changed my name, moved house, still can’t cook and my dad still buys my Heat magazine every Tuesday. I am 49 this July.
And then a couple of things happened. Two weeks ago I had a little TV review published in the Sunday Times Culture. A proud moment.
Then I discovered Keeping Faith on the BBCiPlayer. After the series finale earlier this week I have talked about little else, and asked the ladies of Twitter if they’d like a little style post inspired by Faith Howells. I got some encouraging replies including this one…..
OK, this. This popped up from Eve Myles, the actress who plays the lead role of Faith Howells. I mean, that’s a sign, and it doesn’t matter if my Blog has been off the boil and I’ve been busy at home, because Faith is all about a career break. She’s looking after three young kids, to be fair, and I’m not, but you get the picture. When I saw the Tweet, I sprang into life. Bugger updating the layout, I haven’t got time. What would Faith do? She’d get the job done against the clock.
If you haven’t seen Keeping Faith yet, you need to. There’s a reason why it’s up to 5 million views on the BBCiPlayer. It’s why those of us outside of Wales have set our iPlayer location setting to Wales for the past eight weeks, stalking fellow fans on Twitter and, er, the cast. I tuned in the first week thinking I was getting a sleepy family drama. That got me told.
In a nutshell, Faith is married to Evan, and they are both solicitors in a family firm. Faith goes out one night with the girls, gets drunk, comes home, wakes up with a hangover and sends Evan off to work while she tries to get three spirited offspring ready. That night, Evan doesn’t come home. After a few days, everyone wants to know what’s going on, and the #wheresevan tag went wild on social media.
Not only does Faith have to start back at the office, which is a real baptism of fire, she also decides to find Evan herself, with the help of a few well meaning but rough-around-the-edges previous clients. As in defendants. One of them, Steve Baldini, has been a very Bad Boy in the past and is as rugged as Evan is handsome. Me? I’m Team Baldini all the way.
What follows is eight hours of TV that knocked my slipper socks off. The supporting cast are superb and I loved spotting lots of familiar faces including former Brookside siren, Suzanne Packer, and Gavin and Stacey’s Steffan Rhodri, who makes a brilliantly taciturn judge. But what makes it for me are the women. Whoever described it as a Welsh Big Little Lies is missing the point. When the women in BLL get drunk they fall about in designer cashmere. Faith gets thrown in the spare room, called The Drunk Bunk.
Writer Matthew Hall is already a star for me as he cut his writing teeth on Kavanagh QC, a legendary legal series starring the divine John Thaw. The women of Keeping Faith are strong, boisterous, complex and real. In an era of Me Too and Time’s Up it would be easy to get very PC and po-faced, but Faith is just out there in the world dealing with a lost husband, the school run, a load of secrets that lead to heartache, family issues and nosy neighbours. She is cantankerous, funny, and bolshy and has to tackle a dodgy dentist, a policewoman determined to bring her down and a fabulous Irish trouble maker, played by the astonishing Angeline Ball, who ran away with the spotlight in The Commitments.
So, on to Faith’s style. It takes a while for it to grab your attention but it creeps up slowly and takes hold. First up: the yellow jacket. It’s the star of the show’s poster and women all over social media are donning theirs in honour of Faith. Mine is currently in the wash, an old favourite care of Armand Basi.
Next up, are her legendary suits that she not only wears to court but has meltdowns in at work, in the boardroom and in a host of ladies’ restrooms, often while trying to escape the long arm of the law.
And in the very best scenes Faith is never without her trusty blue shoes, that are often upended as she takes refuge in stockrooms whilst planning her next game plan.
Eve Myles who plays Faith is simply magnificence in motion and the kind of screen beauty who is understated whilst playing an absolute firecracker of a character. There is one courtroom scene when Faith has to defend her role as a mother and it is a lesson in acting and also in being a family’s protector and lioness. And without taking away from that, I’ve been copying her bun and pink lip look all week as well. Women going into battle need to be armed with everything they have – with Faith you get good hair, and a few choice words for the judge.
Last, but not least, are the other two stars of the show. The first is Wales itself, which is as beautiful as it is haunting. And secondly, the soundtrack by Amy Wadge, which is both heartbreaking and ethereal. The show quite simply would not be the same without them.
We left Season 1 with a cliffhanger and a lightning bolt, and the news that Season 2 is in development. For the avid fans of the show, this is good news and I suspect, for an army of women, just like me, a reason to cheer. Because I don’t relate to Hollywood characters even when they are on the TV, but I related to Faith. This post will be full of mistakes and the images need resizing but I can hear Manchester United vs Manchester City in the other room, and I have a husband who needs feeding and a dad who needs checking in on. I don’t have it all, and I can’t do it all, but I feel a little bit inspired to get back to the business of being me.
Faith has reminded me of who I really am. Step on my my blue suede shoes at your own peril.
Season 1 of Keeping Faith is available on the BBCiPlayer. Well done to BBC Wales and Vox Pictures.
The yellow jacket I love from Boden is available at http://www.boden.com
My version of the suit is the Faulkner Jacket and Trousers at http://www.reiss.com
Kerastase Mousse Bouffant has been keeping my big bun in place all week from http://www.lookfantastic.com and my lips are a bit pouty thanks to my Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Hot Berry from http://www.johnlewis.com
The Romy Jimmy Choos are from http://www.theoutnet.com
This blog is in memory of my paternal grandfather, George Roberts, who was from Denbigh, and fought in World War II.
Many thanks to my husband, Dave who has let me shout at the iPad for the last 8 weeks whilst keeping me supplied with tea and Galaxy Ripples.