For Jessica Hynes, women's suffrage is a laughing matter…but only as a sitcom

While it’s definitely a bit of a polar opposite from the recent Mr. Selfridge episode and the quandary that Harry Gordon Selfridge found himself in when his largest benefactor wanted to hold a women’s suffrage meeting at the store, the goal of BBC 4’s Up the Women is to poke a bit of fun at the women’s suffrage movement. During the course of creating the series, however, Jessica Hynes (Spaced, Twenty Twelve) became acutely aware of what women in the early 1900’s were going through and of the need and importance of the movement as reported in the Radio Times. “It changed my view on so many things. It affected me in a way I hadn’t expected. I began to understand things about our current society and the way I fit into it, or don’t. I began to understand that the roots to sexual inequality are economic. Without any political power, women would be free or cheap labor. They were totally unpaid, unrecognized cogs in those wheels of commerce“, said Hynes during her research phase of the project.

In last nights premiere episode, Margaret (Jessica Hynes) has just returned from London where she discovers the women’s suffrage movement. She convinces her fellow sewing group members that they should campaign for women to get the vote and to rename their group ‘The Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Request Women’s Suffrage,’ which, unfortunately, gives viewers a pretty good idea of how successful they are going to be over the course of the series.

Inspired, she wants the ladies of the newly named group to support the cause and suggests they begin a suffrage league of their own. Margaret’s enthusiasm is contagious and it’s not long before Banbury has its own band of hilariously ineffectual suffragettes.

Transmitting Thursdays at 8:30pm on BBC 4, Hynes has rounded up an impressive who’s who of comedy co–stars. The Thick Of It‘s Rebecca Front plays frosty group president Helen; Getting On‘s Vicki Pepperdine is dim–witted spinster Gwen; Hotel Babylon‘s Emma Pierson is mother–of–14 Eva, and Call the Midwife‘s Judy Parfitt is Helen’s lascivious mother, Myrtle.

Like the infamous dead parrot in one of the most famous of Monty Python sketches, the BBC Television Centre in London is no more; it has ceased to be. That said, UK viewers were able to relive its final days last night with the premiere of Jessica Hynes’ Up The Women, the last series to be filmed at BBC Television Centre. During the taping, Hynes said: “We kept getting lost because everyone was stealing the signs for posterity“.

For those who may have seen last night’s premiere, is this something that we need to be on the lookout for on the other side of the pond?

In: Actors/Actresses,Comedy