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Review: Birds of a Feather

The first ladies of Essex are back...

If you noticed a certain giddiness in your Gays-of-a-Certain-Age over the Christmas period, you may have written it off as the usual festive cheer or the consumption of more gin than is technically healthy. But if you’d spoken to them, they’d have whispered of a resurrection. ‘She is returning’, they’d say in hushed tones, almost not daring to speak the words aloud in case the very act of saying them broke the spell. But it was true. On 2nd January, the legend, the icon appeared before us (and 8 million other ITV viewers). Dorien Green was back.

For those unacquainted with the Chigwell’s chicest proponent of leopard print, Dorien Green (Lesley Joseph) was the meddling, man-hungry neighbour of sisters Tracey Stubbs (Linda Robson) and Sharon Theodopolopodos (Pauline Quirke) in Birds of a Feather, one of the biggest sitcoms of the 90s.

As with most resurrections, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Having ditched Birds of a Feather in 1998 after nine successful series, the BBC approached the producers about re-uniting Dorien Green with her bickering, downtrodden neighbours for a one-off Christmas special. Rightfully thinking that they deserved better than one final hurrah, the original Essex girls eventually told them to shove it and decamped to ITV for a full eight episode series. And here we are.

The first episode found the squabbling sisters catching up with Dorien, years after losing touch. She’s now the successful author of racy, steamy novel ‘Sixty Shades of Green’ (geddit?) but finds herself in a spot of trouble with the writer of a co-incidentally similarly titled book and has her assets frozen. Throwing herself on the mercy of her newly reunited friends, Dorien has no choice but to move into Tracey’s Chigwell home, the gloriously tackily named Dalentrace. Hilarity ensues.

We adored Birds of a Feather and have enjoyed many a hungover Sunday afternoon trawling through the box set of the original series, but weren’t sure whether a show that was last on TV in 1998 would work in 2014. We needn’t have worried. The the chemistry between the three leads is magic as ever and by liberally scattering the scripts with 21st references, the show felt comfortable, but still current. Thrown in appearances from TOWIE’s Amy Childs, Busted’s Matt Willis (playing Tracey’s prodigal son Garth) and lovely wee Lorraine Kelly and you’re on to a winner.

The leopard print may have been swapped for Louboutins, but everything else that we adored about Birds of a Feather is back. The release of the first ITV series on DVD this month means that we can watch the rebirth of Dorien Green, over and over again. Definitely not because we’re working on a drag version of her. She is risen. Hallelu!

Five stars

Birds of a Feather is available on DVD now from Amazon.

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