ITV has ordered six-part drama Brief Encounters with filming to begin in February. The 1980s-set story of four unlikely female entrepreneurs is inspired by the early days of the Ann Summers Party Plan business, a concept hatched at the UK retailer specializing in sex toys and lingerie. The women-only parties were designed to introduce the goods at private homes. The shops today remain a fixture on UK high streets.
Created and written by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina (Green Wing, Me & Mrs Jones), Brief Encounters is produced by CPL Productions. CPL’s Arabella McGuigan and Danielle Lux are exec producing with the writer-creators. The story is based in part on chapters of Good Vibrations, the memoir of Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold.
The series, which is casting, introduces Steph, Pauline, Nita and Dawn, who begin to sell exotic lingerie — to the dismay, and often delight, of their loved ones. Steph is an invisible girl until Ann Summers comes into her life, igniting ambition she didn’t know she had and growing her confidence. Married and with a young son, Steph strives to make something extra of her life. Her chance meeting with Nita at the school playground kickstarts a sequence of events that will change both of their lives. A mother of four, Nita is a mix of grit and warmth, struggling to run a household with a husband whom she adores but who frequently strays to the wrong side of the law, despite his devotion to his family.
In her 50s, Pauline is the oldest of the gang, who jumps in at the deep end and agrees to host a party for Steph to salve her loneliness. Pauline‘s sunny disposition hides a secret sadness. She and her husband deeply love each other, but their relationship has suffered while he’s concentrated on building his business.
Young Dawn has a lust for life, but since her mother died she has been trapped, looking after her father and three brothers, who all take her for granted. The bug of earning serious cash with the other women gives her the incentive to finally realize her dreams.
McGuigan calls the project “gutsy, emotional, warm and surprising.” Like the real Ann Summers saleswomen, the characters will discover their hidden strengths as wives, mothers and businesswomen, she says.