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Lip Service will not be resumed – BBC gives Glasgow lesbian show the kiss-off

Laura Fraser starred in Lip Service. Picture: Robert Perry

Laura Fraser starred in Lip Service. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by EMMA COWING
 

SO MUCH for paying Lip ­Service. The hit BBC Three series set in Glasgow featuring a group of glamorous young lesbians has been abruptly cancelled, despite positive ratings and critical success.

The announcement was made by the show’s creator and executive producer, Harriet Braun, yesterday morning. She said on Twitter: “Sadly BBC Three have confirmed there won’t be a 3rd series of Lip Service. A huge, huge thank you to all the fans for all your support.”

The show, starring actresses Laura Fraser, Ruta Gedmintas and Fiona Button, portrayed the love lives of a group of lesbian twentysomethings living in the urban world of Glasgow’s Merchant City.

It ran for two series on BBC Three, where it was applauded for its positive portrayal of the Scottish gay community on screen.

Braun said she hadn’t been given a reason for the cancellation, which comes despite a high-profile social media campaign by its dedicated fans for the show to be re-commissioned. Asked if the BBC had said why the show, made by production company Kudos Film & Television, had been cancelled, she said “no they didn’t,” adding, “sad day”.

However, one show insider said the move had been expected. “The cast and production team had resigned themselves to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen again,” said the insider.

“It wasn’t that surprising to anyone who’s involved but it’s still very sad.”

Despite critical approval for the show, ratings of Lip Service, which debuted on BBC Three in October 2010 with a second series airing last summer, have fallen throughout the show’s two series. The first episode of series one pulled in 580,000 viewers while the last episode of series two was seen by less than 240,000. Fraser – arguably the show’s biggest star – also left Lip Service early in the second series after joining the cast of US TV drama Breaking Bad, a move which upset some fans.

The BBC confirmed the cancellation yesterday with a short statement. “After two series we can confirm that Lip Service won’t be returning to the channel,” the broadcaster said.

The show, dubbed a “Sapphic soap opera” and “Britain’s L Word” for its portrayal of the lives of lesbians in Glasgow, gained a cult following in the UK and abroad, with almost 70,000 Facebook fans and more than 30,000 Twitter followers. A petition launched on Twitter last year demanding a third series for the show gathered almost 6,000 signatures, stating: “The show is dramatically strong and relevant, very funny and with characters we all love and engage with. And the audience deserves to hear the end of the story. So please BBC Three, give us a final series and a fitting end to a brilliant programme.”

Lee Beattie, of Wire Media, a blogger on influential lesbian website Afterellen.com who organised several Glasgow social events tied in with the show, said Lip Service had fulfilled an important role on British television.

“Obviously there was the L Word [a US network show], but it was set in America, so apart from adaptations of Sarah Waters books it was the first show that attempted to give a current viewpoint of what it was like to be a lesbian living in the UK. That’s something that hasn’t been done before. It’s not something people generally see. So when you don’t see your own life represented on the screen very often, when you do see it, it obviously means a lot to people.”

Ruth Cochrane, director of Lovescotland, an Edinburgh-based firm which organises gay-friendly tours and civil partnerships in Scotland and offered several Lip Service themed breaks, said the show had brought people from all over the world to Glasgow.

“It showed Glasgow in a very good light, as a really vibrant city, and because it centred around the LGBT community it reached out to an audience that would never have considered Glasgow before,” she said. “It was a great advert for the city. We received worldwide interest in people wanting to come and visit Glasgow as a result of seeing the show.”

Yesterday, at Delmonicas, Glasgow’s oldest and best known lesbian bar, set in the heart of the Merchant City where much of the show was filmed, many were downcast.

“People are really upset at the fact they’re not going to bring it back,” said the duty manager. “People are gutted. They enjoy it so much so there’s a lot of disappointment.”

Beattie added: “There was a sense that for a lot of people it was more than just a TV show. It became a bit of a community – people who watched it made friends and had relationships as a result of coming along to related events and meeting people. It became a bit of a lifeline to people.”

The show courted controversy for some of its more racy storylines, which included illicit affairs and a sex scene in a morgue, which drew viewer complaints that it was merely “glamourised soft porn”.

Twitter: @emmacowing

 

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