The Syndicate, episode 1, review: the BBC doesn’t need a revolution – it already has good writers

The BBC is planning a new soap, which is a worry for those of who remember Eldorado. It will be set in “the North of England”, which people from the South seem to think is one homogeneous place. I note, without comment, that the BBC executive overseeing this grand idea is chief content officer Charlotte Moore: born in Surrey, school in High Wycombe, university in Bristol.

It’s part of a bigger plan to appeal to working-class audiences north of Watford. That’s a perfectly fine aim – and a necessary one, with viewers increasingly turning to Netflix – but what a clunky way to do it.

Why not just get on with making programmes from all across the country without making a song and dance about it? Which brings us to The Syndicate (BBC One), back for a fourth series. It is the work of Kay Mellor, who populates her shows with working-class people from Yorkshire and manages to find an appreciative audience there and beyond. Past series of The Syndicate were set in Leeds, Bradford and Scarborough, and this one is situated near Hull. These locations feel natural, rather than a box-ticking exercise.

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