Lip Service was a British television serial drama portraying the lives of a group of lesbians living in Glasgow, Scotland. Production on the show, which stars Laura Fraser, Ruta Gedmintas and Fiona Button, began in summer 2009 in Glasgow. The show debuted on BBC Three on 12 October 2010. Filming on a second series was confirmed in late 2010, with filming beginning on 30 May 2011. The second series aired on BBC Three from 20 April 2012. In January of 2013, shows creator, Harriet Braun, announced that BBC Three cancelled the series without explanation.
When Frankie returns to Glasgow to investigate a mysterious message left by her dying aunt, her sudden reappearance rocks ex-girlfriend Cat, who is re-entering the dating scene after Frankie left her heartbroken two years earlier. Her mind is preoccupied with thoughts of Frankie during her blind date with policewoman Sam. Aspiring actress Tess has a humiliating run-in with her ex-girlfriend, but things start to look up when she finds herself being hit on by a gorgeous, and supposedly straight, TV presenter.
Frankie puts herself in danger as she follows a lead that might unravel the mystery of her past. Fate gives Cat a second chance when she runs into policewoman Sam, but she may not truly be ready to forget Frankie. Tess makes a fool of herself on live television and it becomes clear that Lou is nowhere near ready to go public with their relationship.
26 October 2010 (2010-10-26)
Cat and Sam are enjoying a honeymoon period, but cracks begin to show as Frankie's presence becomes an issue. Jay sets out to prove that he's not too old for the office intern, but has to think on his feet when a flirtatious encounter leaves her unconscious. Tess gets more than she bargained for when she turns up at Lou's flat unannounced and there's a shocking revelation that throws Frankie's very identity into question.
Tess has an audition that could change her career but gets stuck in a lift with Jay. Meanwhile Sam confronts Frankie, leaving the latter to buy a ticket to go back to New York. Cat attempts to stop Frankie from leaving Glasgow.
After a loved-up month in South America, Cat and Sam arrive back in Glasgow. Having run away from her affair with Frankie, Cat has to deal with seeing her again. Tess has it all - new job, pad and girlfriend - but her first day at work and the arrival of a new flatmate throws up some surprises.
It's Cat's birthday and Sam has planned the perfect day, but Cat feels like a total fraud because she's still sleeping with Frankie, who offers her a very different sort of present. When Tess leaves work early, events take an unexpected turn.
Sam struggles to deal with everyone fussing around her, while Sadie catches the eye of a fearsome magazine editor during a job interview, and Frankie makes a drastic decision. Tess enlists Ed's help with the difficult Nora, but is unprepared for the consequences.
Sadie's irreverent take on waitressing lands her in trouble, and when Lauren turns up at the restaurant to apologise for snubbing her in the office, the pair end up spending an afternoon together in a hotel room. Lexy suspects Bea is jealous of her plan to take Sam to a wine-tasting event, causing her to question whether their casual arrangement is as straightforward as she thought, while Tess goes on an impromptu blind date with Meg, a friend of Nora and Ed's.
When Sam makes an unexpected visit to the flat, a wedge is driven between her and her friends. The situation with Lexy's stalker intensifies but luckily Tess is on hand to help, although Hugh proves an obstacle. Sadie's relationship with Lauren heats up.
On the day of her first performance, Tess has high hopes for her and Lexy, but things go far from smoothly at the theatre. Sam is also under pressure to lead a major drugs bust, but Ryder is sure that she's not ready. Sadie's weakness for temptation leads her into hot water.
Braun was asked by the BBC to create a UK-based lesbian drama; she stated that the first scene that came to mind when she began writing was "a woman crying in an inappropriate place after finding out her ex is seeing someone else" followed by "someone returning from New York and throwing her ex into a state of panic". Those two scenes resulted in the creation of the three lead characters: Cat and Frankie, and Tess.
Braun gave each of the actors an outline of their character, and then let them develop the full characterisation. For Gedmintas, this included cutting her previously long blond hair to a close cut bob. A rumor arose that the director gave each cast member a manual on lesbian sex, which they were expected to read before shooting began, but Braun confirmed in an interview with Australia's Star Observer that this was only a myth. The first series was shot in its entirety in Glasgow in winter 2009/10.
The opening episode received mixed reviews from critics. Claudia Cahalane of The Guardian wrote that it was "hugely significant" for a drama to normalise lesbian and bisexual relationships, citing a study of BBC output which found that lesbians contributed to just two minutes of programming from a randomly selected 39 hours of broadcasts. While Cahalane expressed disappointment that the episode did not represent butch lesbians, she deemed it "important to recognise Lip Service for the great service it's doing to British lesbians." Keith Watson of the Metro attacked the series' tokenism, suggesting that it included lipstick lesbian clichés to meet the BBC's diversity quota, and commenting that, "It was trying so hard to be modern and liberated but it felt tired and lazy".The Independent's Amol Rajan criticized the episode's "pathetically vacuous plot", calling the series "spirit-cripplingly tedious". He expressed sympathy for the "clearly talented" cast, opining: "In trying to make a point about the importance of engaging with lesbian issues, this show ends up trivialising them. The lesbians are presented to us not as interesting people, or characters who warrant sympathy; rather, they matter purely because of their sexual preferences. That is immature, patronising, and unrealistic." Evangelical pressure group the Christian Institute reported that the episode had prompted complaints from viewers over its sexual content.