Who does she play? Pauline, a married middle-class housewife
What’s her story? “She’s a lonely woman. She’s a quiet person, you feel that she lives rather in a bubble and looks after her husband,” Penelope Wilton tells RadioTimes.com. “Then she meets these girls [through Ann Summers parties] and her life changes. She’s brought out of her shell.”
Brief Encounters catches the “time when young women were just beginning to find their own voice,” adds Wilton. “We’re talking about, not sophisticated, middle-class women who have been privately educated. We’re talking about most people. And that is a wonderful thing to see how they grab the opportunity and they grew in confidence having been given this chance to do something.”
Where do I recognise her from? Downton Abbey, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Doctor Who, Calendar Girls
Who does she play? Steph, a young mum of one who cleans for Pauline
What’s her story? “She’s got a young son, she’s married and she’s just quite shy and sweet and sort of the nice girl who lives next door, really,” Sophie Rundle tells us. “She’s living this quite normal life. She’s never really thought to ask for much more than that. But when we meet her in episode one, her and her husband come up against money problems and that is the sort of spark that begins this whole journey. She has to find another way to get some money. She has to look for a new job and that’s how she comes into contact with the Ann Summers world.”
Through the Ann Summer parties Steph “realises there’s just more to her and she realises that she wants there to be more to her,” adds Rundle.”She wants more from life. It’s sort of been in her, but she’s never thought to explore that side of her, this confident, independent, smart woman. And that’s what blossoms.”
Where do I recognise her from? Peaky Blinders, Dickensian, The Bletchley Circle, Happy Valley, Episodes, An Inspector Calls
Who does she play? Nita, mum of four young children who meets Steph in the school playground
What’s her story? “Nita is a fiesty mother. She is honest and she is loyal, especially when it comes to her family. Everything is about her family,” Angela Griffin tells RadioTimes.com. “She goes straight up to Steph the first time that she meets her and takes her under her wing. She cuddles people the first time she meets them, she’s that kind of person.”
“They live a bit hand to mouth. Kieran does slightly dodgy things to put food on the table. He strays ever so slightly on the wrong side of the law and it’s not enough.
“Nita is the first on board [with the Ann Summers parties and] it is purely for the money,” Griffin says. But “she becomes really good friends” with the other girls. Not that it’s all that simple: “She has a secret. And that seeps into the friendship.”
Where do I recognise her from? Coronation Street, Waterloo Road, Inspector Lewis, Mount Pleasant, Cutting It
Who does she play? Dawn, a hairdresser who knows Pauline
What’s her story? “Dawn is a force. Her mum died roughly six, seven years ago. She’s kind of had to step up and be the mum. She has three brothers, one who’s only 10 so he was really little when their mum died, so she’s really had to step up and run the house,” Sharon Rooney tells us.
When it comes to the Ann Summers parties “all Dawn wants is the perfect house, the perfect family. She wants everything to be just right – and she can see that by doing this job she’ll be able to afford that.”
“She’s making money for her future. She can afford things she probably couldn’t have afforded with a normal job. She’s made new friends, she’s got a really nice group of women around her, she’s got a new kind of support network. So it’s so much more than just marital aids.”
Where do I recognise her from? My Mad Fat Diary, Sherlock, Two Doors Down, Stag, Mountain Goats
Who does he play? Terry, Steph’s husband
What’s his story? Terry is a very traditional man. “He has the inability to contain or really understand his wife Steph,” tease ITV. “As she grows he fears he is being left behind and doesn’t know how to keep up with her, so he reacts in the only way he knows, by throwing his toys out of the pram.”
“I think he has expected their lives to go the way that they’re heading,” his on-screen wife Sophie Rundle tells us. “They met in school, they got married, they had a kid, he’s going to be the breadwinner and their lives will go forward like that. And I think he finds it hard that she’s going out and working and earning money, let alone this outrageous stuff that she’s selling.”
Where do I recognise him from? Emmerdale, Happy Valley, The Syndicate, My Mad Fat Diary, Game of Thrones
Who does he play? Brian, Pauline’s husband and the local butcher
What’s his story? He’s a respected figure in the community who is keen to “step up the social ladder.” He thinks all is happy at home but “his tunnel vision has stopped him seeing the needs of his loyal wife”.
Where do I recognise him from? Our Zoo, I Want My Wife Back, Titanic, The Mimic, The Paradise
Who does he play? Kieren, Nita’s husband
What’s his story? He’s a “devoted, flirtatious husband” and a “fun father” but he’s not a good provider and often makes the wrong choices. “The consequences often cause fractures in the family and leave Nita picking up the pieces.”
“They’ve been together since they were 15, known each other since they were 10. It’s a real committed, loving, fun, brilliant marriage. There are no real problems, there are no cracks in their relationship,” adds his on-screen wife Angela Griffin.
Where do I recognise him from? EastEnders, Holby City, Love & Marriage, One Night, Meadowlands
Who does he play? Russell, Dawn’s boyfriend and an apprentice to butcher Brian
What’s his story? “He’s totally besotted with Dawn… but appearances can be deceptive – Russell has the potential to be Dawn’s rock”
“They go through some ups and downs, but there’s love there,” Sharon Rooney tells us. “There’s just that love and that bond that nothing will break them and it’s lovely. He loves her in every form. He loves her when she’s sad, he loves her when she’s angry, he loves her when she’s happy. They’ve been together since they were really young and he’s probably the only one that knows anything about Dawn’s new life.”
Where do I recognise him from? Skins, Doctor Who, About Time, Count Arthur Strong, The Rack Pack
Who does he play? PC Johnny Daniels
What’s his story? He strikes up a friendship with Steph and “finds himself embroiled in numerous situations” as the series progresses.
Where do I recognise him from? Hunted, Nurse, Give Out Girls, Midwinter of the Spirit