A friend of mine recently purchased an iPad, and was bragging about all the TV shows he was able to watch on it, via various digital services. While Ch4 offer a pretty impressive backlog of their old programmes through 4oD, I was disappointed to find that the BBC has yet to follow their lead… so my attempts to fill in several sizeable blanks in Mabel Aitken’s filmography were sadly thwarted by the fact that shows like Glasgow Kiss simply aren’t available anywhere, in any format. Apparently the first two series of Sea of Souls have been released on DVD, but Aitken only appeared in the third series… so that’s no use to me! Thankfully I discovered that some kind soul had posted her episode (among many others) on YouTube. Hurrah!
Having never seen the show before, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow along, but it was all pretty self-explanatory, with a single-serving “monster-of-the-week” story. Dawn Steele and Iain Robertson play two paranormal investigators, working out of a (fictional) Scottish university. Despite the fact that they’ve presumably faced supernatural phenomena in the previous eps, they come across as frustratingly sceptical here, scoffing at a fretful young man who claims a fortune teller prophesised his imminent demise, after spotting him with an incredibly beautiful red-head in the opening scene. Surprise, surprise, when Robertson’s character ‘Craig’ pops around to the fella’s flat to return his coat later that day, he’s already sleeping with the daisies. Oh no! Turns out that his flame-haired fiancée, ‘Sarah’ (Emma Campbell-Jones), is actually a succubus… and she promptly sets her sights on Craig, who immediately falls under her spell, and refuses to believe there might be anything remotely fishy or fatale about the flirty femme, even after she starts dry-humping the life-force out of his sleeping body. Frankly, Craig comes across as a pointlessly prickish patsy… like ‘Xander’ from Buffy without any of the wit, charm, or carpentry skills.
Meanwhile, Steele’s character ‘Justine’ may be a bit of a bore, but at least she has the good sense to hit the books, and read up on succubi… eventually contacting an “expert” on the subject, who arrives in the shapely form of super-cute lady rabbi named ‘Valerie Ashe’ (as played by the aforementioned Aitken!). Valerie is mostly used as a conduit for dry exposition, but Aitken still manages to bring her natural charm and playfulness to the part, making her the most engaging and sympathetic character in the whole show! Shame they didn’t make her a regular cast member… or give her a spin-off series…
[Note: This is the penultimate credit on Aitken’s resume, before 2007’s Wedding Belles… but if I have anything to do with it, this will simply mark the mid-point of her career, dammit!]