Filming starts next week on the new Debbie Horsfield drama Age Before Beauty, a family saga set in a Manchester salon starring Robson Green (Granchester), Sue Johnston (Downton Abbey), Polly Walker (Mr Selfridge) and James Murray (Him).
The six-part BBC One drama, written by Horsfield (Poldark, Cutting It) and made by Mainstreet Pictures, is an exploration of youth, age, instant gratification and long-term relationships set within the beauty industry. At its heart is an unconventional family rife with sibling rivalries and unconventional parenting through the generations.
Also starring in the series are Lisa Riley (Three Girls), Kelly Harrison (The Level),Vicky Myers (The Five) and Madeleine Mantock (Into the Badlands).
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.”
Age Before Beauty is produced by Guy De Glanville and the director is Paul Norton Walker (I Want My Wife Back, Riviera). Writer and creator Debbie Horsfield is executive producer alongside Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes, Joint Managing Directors of Mainstreet Pictures; and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for the BBC.
Foreword by Debbie Horsfield
“In 2001 I worked with Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes on a series called Cutting It, which was set in the world of hairdressing. Fifteen years on, Laura, Sally and I were discussing what had changed in the world of makeovers and personal grooming, and we agreed that women – and increasingly, men – had become much more obsessed with looking youthful.
The anti-ageing side of the beauty industry had exploded in those intervening years, so we thought it would be interesting to explore the impact on three generations of one family by using it as the backdrop to our saga.
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!”