I was sat thinking ‘I’ve taken on too much’. Along with features to complete for Vulture Hound I was to review Wallander and Love, Nina– the new five-part mini-series about a girl from Leicester who takes up a role as a nanny in order to move to London. And that’s what the emphasis is on- ‘mini’. It was to my delight that when I clicked on iPlayer and then on Love, Nina I discovered each episode is nicely chopped into half hour segments. Panic abated, with two and half bonus hours to watch Wallander, if used wisely, or work on my ‘scripts’, if used wisely again, or play Tetris… I settled down to watch the bite-sized first and second episodes of Love, Nina.
The concept, execution and almost the entirety of the show is in much the same style as the synopsis I gave above. A short sharp bit of fun created by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About A Boy) on point with his usual style- frequently touching upon music, sport and the aimless obsessive natures of his protagonists.
Nina is played by Faye Marsay and I’ll be honest with you, I had to look her up on IMDb. She’s previously been in Pride, Need for Speed and GoT (as The Waif). I give her this much attention because not only is the series about her, Nina, and her tribulations as a nanny to two unruly boys, but because of the speed at which Marsay grows on you. At first I thought she was annoying, but about a third of the way through the first episode (ten minutes) she had earned my full attention- her quirky attitude, her off-beat sense of humour, her timing, her hair cut (it’s all great!)
Nina is hired by editor and single mother of two Georgia, played by the excellent Helena Bonham Carter, to take care of her sons Ray and Joe. Georgia is the quintessential Cosmopolitan city inhabitant- dry, cynical and horribly honest. She knows it all, she’s seen it all and she discloses her wisdom on the young hapless Nina through eyes that are distant and in a manner that isn’t quite ‘there’- perhaps she’s continually daydreaming of former glories, or of distant shores that have sun sand and those cocktails with tiny straw hats.
The first time the pair meet is in interview in Georgia’s living room. Nina rocks up to 55 Gloucester Crescent in Camden, to a lovely little ditty, bare-foot (she’s always barefoot, one of her quirks? More to the point how do the soles of her feet remain so clean!? Has anyone on set ever actually walked through the streets of London barefoot before?). Anyway, the interview sets up much of what is to come throughout the series- a battle between knowledge and wit. ‘Err you haven’t got a lot of experience. So why did you apply to the ad?’ ‘I wanted to move to London… Was there a reason you thought I’d be good for the job?’ ‘I think the way it works is you’re supposed to tell me.’
There’s further snappy dialogue, trials, tribulations, skips and a guy named Floppy as Nina continues to write home to her sister uncovering and describing the many strange mannerisms of these ‘odd Londoners’. I would report more but I wanted to make the article in keeping with the style of the show. It’s well produced, good fun and just 30 minutes. Go watch.
Dir: SJ Clarkson
Scr: Nick Hornby
Cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Faye Marsay, Joshua McGuire, Jason Watkins, Jonathan Aris
Prd: Derrin Schlesinger
Run time: Five 30minute episodes
Love, Nina is on BBC One, Fridays at 21:30 till the 24th of June.