The Split, series 3 review: glossy, implausible, ridiculous… but totally addictive

A lot has happened to the characters in The Split (BBC One) since we first met them four years ago, but some things never change. Nicola Walker will always be filmed crossing a Thames bridge while wearing block colours. She’ll spend her day at the high-end law firm which she, her sisters and her mother treat as an extension of the family home, including the sister who doesn’t actually work there. Each episode ends on a song too maudlin even for a John Lewis Christmas ad. And, do you know what? I love it.

It may have pretensions to be something more, but essentially it’s a bingeable, glossy soap opera in which people with nice kitchens mess up their lives (and some special words of appreciation for this kitchen: it has units so towering that they come with a ladder, like the ones you get in libraries). There are divorce cases going on, providing celebrity cameos – Donna Air in the last series, Lily Cole in this one – but they’re just the backdrop. It’s all about Hannah (Walker) and her sisters: dippy Rose (Fiona Button), who really needs to get a proper job, and chaotic Nina (Annabel Scholey), who has managed to hold down a proper job despite being a drunken shoplifter.

In this third series, Nina has found sobriety and had a baby with one of her sister’s clients, but is having a secret affair with her boss’s gay husband. See what I mean about it being a soap? Rose is dealing with infertility and considering adoption, but then something terrible happens to her – I won’t say what, in case you’re still planning to watch it.

Hannah and husband Nathan (Stephen Mangan) have separated but she’s having second thoughts, despite the fact he signed up to an infidelity website and had an affair, and she’s just finished an affair with a very tall Dutchman. But now Nathan has a dreadful new girlfriend, who we are primed to despise from the moment she refers to children as “little people”.

The couple’s amicable separation soon descends into rancour, in scenes which ring true. And if elsewhere it strains believability – how is this law firm functioning, with all the madness going on? – who cares. It’s enjoyable. 

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