Love, Lies and Records is a British series about Kate, who works in the Leeds registry office. She has a fella and 3 kids at home, a busy work life dealing with births, deaths, and marriages, a confusing man nipping at her heels, and a troublesome coworker named Judy.
The 6 episode series started out on the BBC. Love, Lies and Records is now available on Acorn TV. Ashley Jensen has the lead role as Kate and she’s fantastic in the part. She’s funny, she’s vulnerable, she’s angry, she’s sexy, she’s fed up, she’s fighting for her job, she’s not above fudging the records to help someone in need, and she’s hanging on by a thread through it all.
Rebecca Front plays her nemesis Judy, who will do anything – anything – to be appointed supervisor of the office, even though Kate is clearly the right person for the job.
On the home front, Kate has Rob (Adrian Bower). Rob is a cop and they work together on some immigration issues involving fake marriages that raise Kate’s suspicions in the registry office. The series is partly registry office business, and partly sham marriage business involving immigration and the police.
Kate and Rob have been together for years, but he’s actually married to someone else. They have a teenage daughter Lucy (Lily Mae), who drives them crazy. They also have a son and Rob’s son from his wife.
Mark Stanley’s character James announces in the first episode that he’ll be coming to work dressed as a woman starting Monday. Jamie is the new name. Jamie ends up on Kate’s couch in her already crowded house. Jamie’s wife threw her out and wouldn’t let her see their two boys.
The struggle James/Jamie goes through with gender identity is the most interesting subplot of the season. It’s handled delicately and with love. There are other subplots among office members. The clients that come through the registry office bring their own brief stories about dying partners, lost children, same sex marriages, and plenty of sham marriages for the extension of visas.
Then there’s Rick from the office. He has the hots for Kate. She gave in to him once at the Christmas party when they’d been drinking. Now there’s video of them shagging in the strong room of the office. And Kate’s rival Judy is not afraid to use that video to get the supervisor’s job for herself. There are also photos of Kate and Rick laughing together that Rick’s girlfriend sent round because she had a private detective following him.
The relationship between Rick and Kate gets more and more fraught as the season wears on. Rick’s 100% clear about wanting to be with her.
Kate’s terrified that Rob will see the video and the photos. The measures and countermeasures she takes to protect her relationship with Rob add to her stress level, which is already sky high.
Kate decides to marry Rob. He gets his divorce taken care of. But Kate is conflicted about Rick. She is attracted to him. She doesn’t want to break up her family. Rick is a problem. Every wedding Kate officiates sends her into a spin. All those words about love, all those solemn vows. They seem tailor made for her own situation with every wedding she officiates.
The wedding to Rob falls though. With Kate torn between two men and not knowing her own mind in the matter, it keeps the audience guessing until the last moment.
Kate is a complicated woman. At work she’s kind and empathetic. At home she’s a tough love mom. Rick’s constant attention and the tensions with Rob over their home life have her wavering. She’s smart and good at her job. Yet she’ll lie straight-faced when she’s done something she doesn’t want anyone to know about.
Kate’s life felt real to me. Arguments at home over confiscated telephones from teens, kids who want new shoes, kids who want a dog, too many people living in the house, and tension between Kate and Rob all rang true. In many ways Kate is Everywoman, struggling to keep up with work and family in the modern world.
A big thank you to whoever decided that the citizens of Leeds, which is in West Yorkshire, use an accessible English accent. The Yorkshire accent fans have to decipher in series penned by Sally Wainwright can make an American scurry to the dictionary far too often. The characters in Love, Lies and Records speak in ways even an American can “hear.”
Every episode was written by Kay Mellor, who created Love, Lies and Records. Cilla Ware directed one episode, with Dominic Leclerc directing the others. I’d love another series about Kate and her exploits. She’s a fantastic character. Series 1 ended on a note that left room for more time with Kate. However, I haven’t been able to find any information about whether there will be a second series.