by Del Harvey
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Lilies is an eight-part British television series which tells the coming-of-age tale of three Catholic sisters in post World War I Liverpool. The sisters are the outgoing Ruby (Kerrie Hayes), the conservative Iris (Catherine Tyldesley), and the risk-taking May (Leanne Rowe). Together with their father, Dadda, and brother Billy, the girls face the harsh reality of working class life in 1920s Britain.
Lilies is one of the best period dramas to come from the BBC in a while. I found this series to be a heartwarming family drama, if not a bit strained at times. The stories are set in the poverty-stricken docks area of Liverpool in the period just following the First World War. The Moss girls, all raised as good Catholics, as was their mother’s desire, share their lives, passions and fears in one tiny terraced house. And often it is the love of family which helps them survive even the darkest of times. In spite of the comments herein regarding the drama of the series, rest assured there are plenty of light-hearted moments to balance things out as we follow the girls through their shared and individual triumphs and tragedies.
This is an outstanding series, and I sincerely hope it earns the recognition it should have earned while still a BBC television series. DVD extras include behind-the-scenes footage, a picture gallery and cast filmographies. The one downside to the recording is that it is missing subtitles, and, even though it is close-captioned, the working-class Liverpool accents can be a bit too thick to understand at times. Even so, this is still a wonderful series and quite worthy of another viewing or purchasing if you are a lover of the British period drama.
Del Harvey is a writer and founder of Film Monthly. He lives in Chicago, where he teaches and makes film.
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