Maggie Cole is a fictional television character, but we all know persons like her.
And that’s what makes “The Difficulties with Maggie Cole,” a six-element British dramedy premiering Sunday on PBS, at turns humorous, sad, enlightening and redemptive.
Cleverly performed by Dawn French (“French and Saunders,” “The Vicar of Dibley”), Maggie is the pretentious, self-essential, blustery local gossip, the form of human being who runs a present shop nonetheless inflates that into getting “the local historian” of Thurlbury, a sleepy English seaside village. On the surface area, she’s harmless adequate she’s fortunately married to the local most important university headmaster, Peter, (Mark Heap) and pines for grandchildren (her son has been married for a few a long time). Her electric power, at least in her own mind, lies in the techniques she is familiar with — or thinks she is familiar with — about her neighbors’ techniques and peccadilloes.
That all arrives to bear when Maggie is asked to do a regional radio interview. She’s tickled at the prospect, telling any person who will hear (with bogus humility) about her “15 minutes of fame,” nonetheless reveling in getting deemed a person with gravitas. The interview starts, and just after a couple of drinks, what’s ostensibly meant to be Maggie’s waving the civic flag for Thurlbury turns into a lot extra when, prodded, she drunkenly reveals some of the village’s “local color” — unleashing a torrent of unfounded gossip about her neighbors and basically airing everyone’s soiled laundry. The awkward scenario turns downright unpleasant by Maggie inviting her buddies, including some of the offended get-togethers, to an outdoor barbecue to hear to her Large Instant in serious time, not try to remember what she claimed by her haze of alcohol. You won’t find a extra cringeworthy second as her interview blares by a number of loudspeakers. #Horrifed.
The interview, of class, goes viral Maggie becomes a meme (a green-faced witch), the local paper screams “Radiogate!” on its entrance website page and Thurlbury is thrown for an enormous psychological loop. Her gossip targets — including her most effective friend (Julie Hesmondhalgh), and her medical doctor (Chetna Pandya) — dub by themselves “The Outed Six” as Maggie attempts to select up the parts of her shattered reputation with support from her supportive spouse.
“The Difficulties with Maggie Cole” does a great task of balancing its very low comedy and superior drama, preserving viewers off-equilibrium. French’s shading of Maggie is, by turns, sympathetic and unctuous, humorous and pathetic. Maggie appears to be truly sorry for the grief she’s prompted and attempts to make amends and strangely adequate, even though, a number of twists and turns, all may not be missing as “radiogate” carries on to reverberate. French, an acclaimed actress/comedienne (her most effective friend and comedy husband or wife is Jennifer Saunders from “Absolutely Fabulous”) is the proper human being for Maggie’s quirky mix of antagomism/protagonism, and the surroundings (the series was shot in South Devon and Cornwall) is picturesque.
“The Difficulties with Maggie Cole” premiered on the UK’s ITV in March to sound vital opinions it is to our profit that it is now airing on PBS so we can see for ourselves that all the plaudits ended up effectively-deserved.