"Brilliant Fun!" --What's On TV (U.K.)
Ex-cons Ellie, Hannah, Shoo, and Josie have done their time. Now they just want to disappear to Barbados with £3 million stolen from Ellie’s gangster husband, Roy. When a twist of fate leaves them without passports, they flee to a remote village in the Scottish Highlands and a shabby hotel that seems like the perfect hideaway. All they have to do is lie low and plan their escape. But the town of Hope Springs harbors bigger secrets and worse crimes, including unsolved murders. Soon their lives are complicated by small-town nosiness, a shady solicitor, a handsome policeman, and a hit man sent by Roy in search of his money--and the girls.
Alex Kingston (ER, Moll Flanders) leads a colorful cast that includes Annette Crosbie (Little Dorrit), Sian Reeves (Emmerdale Farm), Paul Higgins (In the Loop), Christine Bottomley (The Street), Vinette Robinson (Waterloo Road), Ronni Ancona (Gideon’s Daughter), and Alec Newman (Frank Herbert’s Dune). Set against the backdrop of gorgeous Scottish scenery, Hope Springs is escapist, entertaining fun.
is a bit like Sex and the City
--if Carrie & Co. had served time for fraud, assault, and arson! Ellie (Alex Kingston, ER
), Shoo (Christine Bottomley, The Street
), Hannah (Sian Reeves, Emmerdale Farm
), and Josie (Vinette Robinson, Waterloo Road
) are fresh out of prison, but they pull off a perfect scam on Ellie's weaselly husband--netting them a big chunk of money and putting him in jail. Then their plan to skip off to Barbados falls apart and they're forced to take a detour to Scotland, where they try to keep a low profile operating a run-down hotel. Unfortunately for them, they've landed in a murder mystery--and the hotel is at the heart of it. Even worse, the imprisoned husband's right-hand man is hunting them down, and he doesn't care who gets hurt (or killed) along the way.
Hope Springs balances drama and whimsical comedy with easy skill. Kingston drives the show with her mix of iron will, confident sexiness, and flashes of vulnerability, but the entire cast is solid, including Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave) as the previous owner of the hotel who's not as dotty as she seems. Particularly good is Bottomley; her character Shoo is a mess--needy, reckless, prone to petty tantrums--but in Bottomley's hands she's deeply sympathetic, and exemplifies the damaged lives these women have lived. The show's overarching theme is how these former criminals, who've learned to look out for themselves at all costs, discover the value of community. Thanks to the fine cast and strong writing, this opening up is both comic and touching. Hope Springs is an excellent show that deserves to find a wider audience. --Bret Fetzer