Cleaning Up sees ITV kicking off the new drama year with the reliable Sheridan Smith as Sam, a single parter with a grumpy ex. She’s stuck in a horrible cleaning job with an over-demanding boss, and also has a gambling addiction to the point where she’s even playing roulette games on her mobile while driving.
She’s in dire need of some cash to cover the bills but, of course, she could spend her money more wisely than having tons of gross, random tramp stamps all over her body.
To resolve the situation, she rents out the spare room to Glynn (Robert Emms) and accidentally picks up some insider dealing tips, overhearing trader Blake (Ben Bailey Smith) while cleaning an accountant’s office at Canary Wharf, soon taking steps to ensure she hears some more on a regular basis.
There’s also a small side plot about her cleaning colleague Jess (Jade Anouka), but it wasn’t anything to get excited about. And without going into spoilers, the least said about the main scene in part 3 of the first episode the better, since surely CCTV would negate that from being a possibility?
This first episode was watchable, but far from revelatory – basically, if you’ve read the description, you’ve seen the episode, as Sam struggles with debt, argues with her ex-husband, tries to evade debt collector Warren (Neil Maskell), and so on. It felt like less time was spent on the script than it took to broadcast the episode. The second one will have to seriously improve if it’s to retain my viewership.
If you’re unsure about this, then take note Ms Smith was in the far better Care, on BBC1 just before Christmas.
Fans of Elbow will be pleased to know, that according to IMDB, Guy Garvey is involved with the programme’s score. There was nothing too stand-out in it, however.
UPDATE Episode 2: As we expected (and we knew would happen), Sam’s listening device was found, but as the episode went on, she ended up even more unlikeable as she just sinks further and further into debt without any regard for anyone else.
I get that they’re trying to get across how addictive gambling can be, but it’s being shown way too often, to the point where it’s crowding out any plot development… but then why have plot development when this drama can use part 3 – yet again – to jump the shark.
I’m all for a bit of escapism, but please don’t insult our intelligence.
There were other dumb things when:
Cleaning Up begins on Wednesday at 9pm. After each episode is broadcast, they’ll be on the ITV Hub. It’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Episode 1: 4/10
Episode 2: 2/10
Directors: Lewis Arnold, Robert McKillop
Producer: Karen Lewis
Writer: Mark Marlow
Music: Guy Garvey, Peter Jobson, Paul Saunderson
Sam: Sheridan Smith
Jess: Jade Anouka
Dave: Matthew McNulty
Mina: Branka Katic
Alice: Kristy Philipps
Lily: Anya McKenna-Bruce
Glynn: Robert Emms
Frances: Rosie Cavaliero
Blake: Ben Bailey Smith
Swanny: Lloyd Owen
Warren: Neil Maskell
Beth: Naomi Ackie
Viktor: Uriel Emil
Jake: Hero Fiennes Tiffin
John: Jordan Dawes
Chris: Theo Barklem-Biggs
Amber: Angela Wynter
Daniella: Milanka Brooks
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.