TV Review: Dreamland

Lily Allen makes her TV acting debut alongside a brilliant Freema Agyeman in Dreamland

“Why are you talking to me like I’m in Games of Thrones

Based on Sharon Horgan’s well-received short for Sky Arts Morgana Robinson’s Summer, Dreamland is a neat half-hour show that sits somewhere between comedy drama and soap. Written by Gabby Best, Sarah Kendall, Emma Jane Unsworth and Sharma Walfall, and directed by Ellie Heydon, it follows the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional family based in the seaside town of Margate.

In her TV acting debut, Lily Allen plays Mel, the one that got away to job in Paris but now slinking back full of secrets. And as she rejoins her mother (Frances Barber), grandmother (Sheila Reid) and three sisters (Freema Agyeman’s Trish, Gabby Best’s Clare and Aimée-Ffion Edwards as Leila), those secrets can’t help but wind their way to the surface to cause all sorts of tension.

Well, eventually they do. You’ve got to sit through a couple of episodes of pretty broad, unsophisticated comedy to get there whilst the building blocks of the drama are put into place. Mel and Tish in particular have some real issues to work through and once through the pink-hued insanity of the opener, Agyeman is superb as Tish, determined to grow her family and join the property ladder despite everything going on around her.

Best’s Clare is also great fun as the acerbic straight-shooting sister, a writer in the making and whilst Edwards brings charm to the daffy Leila, she does feel the most disposable of the sisters. Barber delivers her usual schtick as the garrulous Cheryl, guarding her own secret with her new lover Diane (Martina Laird). And Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Tish’s fella Spence really grows into his own as the dramatic stakes rise. It’s not necessarily earth-shatteringly good but certainly entertainingly watchable.

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