It's polling day in Banbury, and the plucky ladies of the BICCPRWS are protesting in the church hall polling station, requesting that voters spoil their ballot papers in support of suffrage. The uptake isn't stellar, but when fellow suffragette - crazed Betty from the sweetshop, who has been turned away from nearly all of the other suffrage groups - turns up and holds the circle hostage, things take a turn for the militant. There are a few more chuckles this week, but nothing like the amount there should be, considering all the talent involved.Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 18th February 2015
A great novel should capture the atmosphere of it time, but comedy needn't do the same. Think of Father Ted: it didn't have a pious, restrained feel which we might expect to find on an isolated, religious island. On the contrary, it was manic and weird and brilliant. So if comedy is drawn from confounding our expectations and working against the grain, Up The Women (BBC Two) must be trying out some new theory. It depicts Britain in 1910 where ladies were supposed to be soft, delicate and empty-headed, and that's exactly what this comedy is like. It perfectly gives us the cliche of the time.Julie McDowall, The Herald, 11th February 2015
This week the Banbury craft circle's day trip to London is thwarted because women are banned from the train after the escapades of a more militant suffragette group. After a little slapstick from Jessica Hynes involving a bike nicknamed Lady Agatha, they don cunning disguises: mutton chops, walrus moustaches and bushy beards.
But the best gags are those that come with a wry wink: "In a hundred years' time when women are trouser-wearing voters," declares Margaret, "we'll be evaluated on our wit, not our waist-size."Claire Webb, Radio Times, 11th February 2015
The prim Banbury suffragettes endeavour to "trek across the foothills of ignorance" and "ascend the slopes of injustice", inspired by real-life American mountaineer Annie Smith Peck. How? By distributing an uncompromising leaflet.
Once again, writer and leading lady Jessica Hynes proves mistress of the double entendre: cricket boxes, stiff whites, and fluids for her colossal new Kodak camera. Rebecca Front is delightfully withering as resolutely un-emancipated Helen, while Judy Parfitt is superb as worldly Myrtle. What's lacking are belly laughs; more often than not the gags are as gentle and mild as the Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Request Women's Suffrage group's politics.Claire Webb, Radio Times, 4th February 2015
There are a few history lessons in this week's episode, as the craft circle is inspired by mountaineer Annie Smith Peck's 1911 ascent of Mount Coropuna. They decide to protest their exclusion from playing and watching sports by producing a pamphlet to prove women are capable. By chance, there's a bowls tournament in town, featuring the Rams of New Zealand, a faraway land where women can play sport and have the vote. The jokes are once again solid, and the cast look to be having a grand old time.Bim Adewunmi, The Guardian, 4th February 2015
The laughs are loud and come thick and fast and are genuine and not canned laughter. To my tin ears they do sound odd though. They don't have the same natural ring, for instance, as the laughs during Count Arthur Strong. Is something different done to them during the edit?Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 28th January 2015
Industrial inaction breaks out at Helen's factory as female workers demand their microscopic salaries be increased to a pittance. With working women taking to the streets, Margaret straps on a sandwich board and joins them to elicit support for the suffragette cause. Sadly, her supposedly rousing invective couldn't rouse a dormouse, with even Eva and Myrtle relying on a chemically curious elixir to keep awake. Luckily, at least one member of the circle is a little more adept at socking it to The Man.Mark Jones, The Guardian, 28th January 2015
The tiny band of women who make up the Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Request Women's Suffrage group think it's time to increase their number.
Gung-ho leader Margaret (Jessica Hynes, who created and co-writes Up the Women) has planned a rousing speech aimed at the village's downtrodden women workers. But none of them turns up to hear her rallying cry.
I can see that Up the Women's heart is in the right place, and it means well, but its few laughs are superficial and it feels underpowered. Still, the cast, notably the ever-splendid Judy Parfitt, a star of the memorable 1974 Suffragette drama Shoulder to Shoulder, here playing a mischievously lascivious aristo, has a high old time.Alison Graham, Radio Times, 28th January 2015