TV, 1999, 3.5 stars
1999-2002 (Seasons 1-3)
Created by: Maureen Chadwick, Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus
Warning! Lots of spoilers below. Not so much a review as a plot synopsis.
It's all about Nikki and Helen. Were there other characters in the first three seasons? I'm sorry, I didn't notice.
When I think of what a sexy couple should be, I think of gravity. These babes should be so hot for each other that the laws of nature need to be working in their favour. They have an instant pull, a connection, an irresistable attraction. Heck, they have so much heat they could be mistaken for a renewable energy source.
Where can we find such a thing? Rule Britannia, I say! Who would have thought that the land of BBC costume drama could produce something so ludicrous, so trashy, so hot!? Yes, I'm talking about Nikki Wade and Helen Stewart. Anyone who has seen the first three seasons of the aptly named Bad Girls will know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, it's time to pick yourself up a box set. Well, go on. I'm waiting.
Fans of Bad Girls are divided on a very important question. Who is sexier, Nikki or Helen? Nikki has the tall, dark thing going for her, along with the dark past and the bad girl image. Helen has her authority, her gorgeous eyes and lips, and that accent. Woah, that accent.
Together the two are electric. We were denied any real contact between them for half of the first season, though it was painfully obvious that Nikki Wade, lifer and murderer, had a thing for the Larkhalls Wing Governor. When Helen first discovered Nikki's attraction to her, by having Nikki put her hand on her breast in the gardening shed, she was stunned. At first she got angry, insisted she was straight and went running into the arms of her boyfriend Sean, agreeing to marry him and live the life of a perfect heterosexual.
As the time wore on, Nikki wore Helen down. After one kiss it was pretty much goodbye fiancé. Then the shit hit the fan and Helen was forced first into personal leave and then to resign as Wing Governor. On her way out Helen gives in to that ultimate of temptations, the consequences-free goodbye kiss. Hello! Welcome to season two.
Is this the end of Helen? No! She returns as Head of Lifers at Larkhalls, which means not only is she still involved in Nikki's life, she's her personal supervisor. The tension mounts. We know Helen is up to something when she secretly photocopies Nikki's file. It turns out Helen has made it her personal crusade to get Nikki's case appealed.
Throughout the season Nikki and Helen try to defy gravity (that irresistable pull, remember?) and function as screw and inmate in a prison that practically screams "hotbed of lusts and desires". At the end of the second season, fed up with the setbacks in her appeals process and fed up with not getting the woman she wants, Nikki bribes a nurse 3000 pounds to help her escape, and lands on Helen's doorstep. After the shock wears off Helen realises what a fabulous opportunity this is and they make love for the first time. I may have missed a bit at the end there, the heat coming off them melted the wiring in my TV. *mutter*
I bought a new TV. Season three! Helen contrives to drive Nikki back to Larkhalls where they sneak her back in undetected. They vow to continue fighting for Nikki's appeal.
Meanwhile, after a few annoying setbacks, Nikki finds herself in the middle of a brawl at Larkhalls. She backs a peaceful protest among the prisoners which turns ugly and gets everyone in lots of trouble. Nikki herself succeeds in locking the troublemakers up and ending the riots, but it is too little too late. Helen is incensed. Their relationship is over. Say it isn't so! *cue serious music here*
Nikki is heartbroken. Helen rebounds onto some twat of a doctor who's gorgeous, intelligent and just plain annoying. Our poor girl is forced to sit back and watch Helen be romanced by this moron, when anyone can see that Helen is just running scared and using any possible excuse to put something between her and the truth.
Helen is blackmailed by the evil Fenner with evidence of her and Nikki's affair, plus information on Nikki's escape from the nurse she bribed. Helen could probably save her job, but if the news of Nikki's one night on the lam got out it would be the end of her appeal. So Helen resigns. It's the end of her career at Larkhalls. She and Nikki part company sadly, but Helen is still seeing the twat doctor so what can be done?
Finally, victory is at hand. Nikki's appeal is granted, despite a last-minute attempt by the same people who blackmailed Helen to have her caught with an illegal weapon. Nikki is set free and is reunited with Trish, the woman she killed the cop for to be thrown into Larkhalls in the first place. Helen has been thinking, and mulling. Her twat doctor-boyfriend figures out the truth and encourages Helen to admit the truth to herself about her love for Nikki. Helen follows his advice and gets up the courage to visit Nikki on the outside.
Nikki is sceptical at first, thinking Helen can't possibly be interested in her romantically. Helen tries to make a real connection but leaves disappointed, but Nikki is slapped to her senses by Trish who gives in at last and lets Nikki go, right into the arms of her gorgeous Scottish babe.
As we watch our sexy heroines kiss right there and then on the street, fade to black and fade from the show for the last time, we're left with one final, wonderful fact. They faced their share of trials and tribulations but ended up together. Neither of them died, turned evil, tried to kill anyone (again) or generally brought disrepute to the lesbian race. They just fell in love.
So let's hear it for it Nikki and Helen. I'll admit, not everyone has a thing about women with Scottish accents like I do. All that matters is that we celebrate these women as functional, interesting TV lesbians and hope for many more just like them, only different and better please, with more sex. That'd be nice.