Personal Affairs is a BBC 5-episode series that chronicles the office life of four personal assistants that include — from left to right — aspiring Lucy (Laura Aikman), perfect assistant Grace (Olivia Grant), “I want to be famous” Michelle “Midge” (Annabel Scholey), and sex-money-hungry Nicole (Maimie McCoy).
Grace is perfect — always on time, always there when you need her, always giving you what you need in the precise moment when you need it — and her boss Rock van Gelder (Robert Grant) knows it. Somehow, unbelievably, Mr. Van Gelder ends up in the delusion that he’s in love with her and decides to propose.
Then, after the engagement of Dr. Palmer (Jeremy Sheffield) and Jane (Archie Panjabi), Grace mysteriously disappears, leaving her P.A. friends hanging as the drama continues with their lives… which includes the introduction of Doris — a.k.a. Sid (Ruth Negga) — temping for Grace.
There are so many right and wrong things with a series like Personal Affairs. For starters, it’s got a competent cast. Watching the scenes with the double Grant combo (Grace and Mr. Van Gelder’s actors’ names) are positively hilarious, and there’s a certain mother hen quality to Grace watching over the other assistants… at least in the first episode. The comedy aspect of the show is fine, but then we go lengths with the drama, that’s when it gets truly messy — Telenovela style.
There’s nothing wrong with Telenovelas — which we are using as a term for super cheesy soap operas because that’s mostly Latin American soap opera style — but it’s a 5-episode Telenovela, which makes it even busier than a regularly crammed show.
I’ll give you this, the over-the-top twist at the end with Grace, it made me go “WHAT!? No way~” at nearly 5 am. The twist being the resolution of the story, it leaves little to no exploration of the relationship with Grace and her best friend Simon (Darren Boyd), and well… the not-a-relationship with Jane. However, it does let actress Olivia Grant pull off kind of a wonderful monologue through a lit screen.
Hmm, yeah — kind of like Desperate Personal Assistants on Wisteria Lane.