“Strictly Confidential” Delivers a Complex Bisexual Character

 
 

Suranne Jones
Britain’s ITV has had a mixed reputation with its nighttime dramas in the past, with leading roles in mediocre projects often awarded to former stars of the network’s tea-time soaps, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. So when ITV unveiled Strictly Confidential earlier this year, a “sexy” Thursday night drama featuring Suranne Jones, Eva Pope and a guest appearance by Nikki Sanderson — all formerly of Coronation Street fame — the series didn’t look very promising.

But for queer British viewers, the show promised some of the only lesbian action on the late autumn TV schedule, and also one of the few bisexual characters in British television history.

The brainchild of Kay Mellor — another Coronation Street veteran — Strictly Confidential follows the professional and personal life of Linda Nelson (Suranne Jones), a bisexual sex therapist. She and husband Richard (Cristian Solimeno) are having difficulty conceiving a child, and the search for a potential sperm donor is putting a strain on their relationship. Meanwhile, Linda’s clients at Reconcile, the private sex therapy practice she runs with Richard’s brother, Greg (Tristan Gemmill), further underscore her own marriage’s imperfections.

Although Linda’s personal struggles form the backbone of the series, the final scenes in Episode 1 reveal the real drama of the show: One of Linda’s clients has been murdered. A former detective herself, Linda is summoned by her ex-girlfriend Detective Sergeant Angie Morton (Eva Pope) to provide professional insight into the victim and the sex-related crime.

All of the events and characters in Strictly Confidential, including the murder plotline, are used to propel Linda’s own story forward. Her clients’ sessions, which are presented in a confessional style and with liberal, lascivious flashbacks, serve as a window into her own insecurities as she explores her marital difficulties and her attraction to her co-worker, Greg. This is never more obvious than when Greg presents a case study on extramarital affairs at a conference for their sex therapist peers, having just returned from a lust-filled night in Linda’s hotel room.

Although these developments clearly push the heterosexual aspect of the series forward, Linda’s past is also a major plot point that is addressed — albeit secondarily — each week.

Her relationship with Angie, in particular, is an obvious source of tension in the series, and Richard, already feeling emasculated by his own infertility, does not like his wife’s budding professional relationship with her former partner. Angie does not seem very interested in her ex, however, as she is busy with her own relationship with her girlfriend Ruth (Fiona Clarke). Ruth also happens to be pregnant, which evokes some quiet resentment from Linda but also seems to close the door on any potential fling she could have with Angie.

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