Last week I looked forward to the conclusion of ITV’s 3-part drama, ‘The Ice Cream Girls’. In previous episodes, we were introduced to Poppy, a quiet woman just released from prison after serving a long sentence for the murder of a teacher when she was a teenager. She had been tried alongside her friend, Selena, whose lawyer mother ensured that she was found not guilty. The episodes use flashbacks to explore the question of who was really to blame for the murder of a man revealed to be a manipulative abuser of young girls, as well as the impact of the event on the girls’ lives as they have grown up. Selena has since achieved a good education, married and had a child, while Poppy’s fractious relationship with her stepfather and feckless mother leaves her isolated upon her release.
Throughout the series it is impossible not to feel sorry for Poppy, both of the excellent actors portraying her at different ages left in doubt that she was innocent from the beginning. Her desire for affection clear from the first scene involving her mother, who betrays the cardinal rule of parenting by choosing her husband over her child. I found her the most irritating character in all this, she displays no hint of backbone while her husband remains hostile towards Poppy and it becomes easy to see why the teenager was so open to manipulation by a man willing to give her attention. Like mother like daughter I suppose. Yet the lack of a resolution once (spoiler alert!) Poppy’s innocence has been proven is incredibly frustrating. The much loved younger siblings whom Poppy has repeatedly asked for return, and yet there is no comeuppance for the man who has always believed in her guilt, or for the woman who excluded her eldest child from a family meal.
For Selena, her sense of guilt worsens as the story progresses, though it is unclear until the conclusion whether this is due to lies in the courtroom or the lies told to her new family, who know nothing of her past. Again the young actress portraying her teenage self shines in the scenes involving her abuse by a teacher.