A new drama coming soon to BBC One by Debbie Horsfield, Age Before Beauty, is a family saga set in a Manchester beauty salon starring Robson Green , Sue Johnston , Polly Walker  and James Murray .

The six-part drama, written by Horsfield who was the writer behind Poldark and Cutting It and made by Mainstreet Pictures, is an exploration of youth, age, instant gratification and long-term relationships, all set within the beauty industry. At its heart is an unconventional family rife with sibling rivalries and unconventional parenting through the generations.

Married to Wesley for 25 years, Bel as spent the last 18 years as a homemaker and mum to their twins – but having just waved them off to university, now has a void in her life. Enter Teddy , brother-in-law and long-time best friend, begging her to step in and rescue the family business – a down-at-heel beauty salon in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Like Bel, it could do with a bit of a face-lift. And possibly a clear-out, since it employs her high-maintenance family: mother Ivy-Rae , a Northern Soul fanatic and spray tan technician; sisters Leanne  – part-time nail-technician, part-time personal stylist; Tina-‘body artist’ aka tattooist; and Heidi  – fillers & Botox, cosmetic surgery addict – mother to Disney, plump, nine year-old wannabe Pageant Queen.

Into the mix comes beautiful 20-something Personal Trainer Lorelei who seems to have caught Wes’s eye… can Bel reconcile the demands of her business, her warring family and the problems in her marriage?

Sally Hayne, executive producer and joint MD at Mainstreet Pictures, says: “It’s wonderful to be reunited with Debbie on such a brilliant, joyful and uplifting show.”

Laura Mackie, executive producer and joint MD at Mainstreet Pictures, adds: “Age Before Beauty will make you laugh and make you cry, and as ever, Debbie has created the most original set of characters that the audience will want to spend time with.”

Debbie Horsfield says:

Age Before Beauty explores the expectations we have, and the ‘rules’ we create about what people are ‘allowed’ to do at any given age. It was inspired by a feature I read about what women were and weren’t ‘allowed’ to wear, according to their age and shape! [No bikinis after 35. No long hair over 40. No mini-skirts after 25. No leather trousers ever unless you’re 6ft tall and a size 8!] It made me wonder what other rules are there out there, which people feel they have to abide by? Especially in a world of selfies and social media where so many people are keen to pass judgement and so many people feel they have much to live up to.

So Age Before Beauty became less about specific anti-ageing beauty treatments and much more about characters deciding to confound age-related expectations – for better or worse – at whatever age they fancied! I say for better or worse because one of the things we explore is the midlife crisis. We ask the question: Is it automatically better to be young? Does age always envy youth? Is beauty always the thing to aim for? Or does youth and beauty ever have anything to learn from age and maturity?

We’re looking at three generations of one family and exploring how they deal with the demands of youth, age and everything in between. And how they confound expectations. So for instance, the worst-behaved generation is actually the oldest and the most sexualised and overdressed is actually a nine year-old!

Family has always played a large role in my work and I enjoy exploring the dynamics between siblings and different generations. In Age Before Beauty we have three generations, aged from nine to late 60s, and we’ve been fortunate enough to assemble an extraordinary cast. The drama is set in my home town of Manchester. Obviously I’m biased but I feel there are particular qualities about the city (its vibrant multiculturalism and ever-changing faces) and its inhabitants (their resilience, irreverence, inventiveness, humour) – which make for particularly entertaining drama.

It’s been fun to return to the world of contemporary Manchester after being immersed in 18th century Cornwall for the past few years, but in truth I’ve loved both worlds and would happily return to either and both!”


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