9-10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8
BBC1 (U.K.)

LONDON -- Just as in "Sex and the City," there are four sophisticated thirtysomething women fascinated by temptation in the BBC's new series "Mistresses," though only one technically qualifies under the title.

The six-part hourlong series from Ecosse and BBC America has more than sex and shopping on tap, though straying from the marital path is on everyone's mind in one way or another.

The opening-credits sequence focuses on the flashing eyes of the four leads, who share confidences and sometimes hide secrets from one another at their frequent girls nights.

Katie (Sarah Parish) is a doctor who has kept hidden her two-year affair with a handsome and married but suddenly dead patient, John (Anthony Calf). Trudi (Sharon Small) has remained faithful to her husband for six years following his presumed death in the Sept. 11 attacks. Lawyer Siobhan (Shelley Conn) is fed up with mechanical baby-making sex with her husband and is considering other options. And event planner Jessica (Olra Brady) is single and happy to bed any married man she finds attractive.

Katie's situation becomes problematic when her late lover's hunky son, Sam (Max Brown), suspects that his dad was having an affair and sets out to find his lover. Trudi finally collects a &#x00A32 million insurance payoff on the same day that a handsome father named Richard (Patrick Baladi) invites her for coffee.

Siobhan and husband Hari (Raza Jaffery) are keen for a child, but their passionless encounters are making her more susceptible to the office overtures of Dominic (Adam Rayner). Meanwhile, Jessica takes time from bonking her boss, Simon (Adam Astill), to contemplate new territory following interest from Alex (Anna Torv), one of a pair of lesbians whose civil wedding she is designing.

There's little here that hasn't been seen in many a soap opera, but creators Rachel Anthony (who also scripted), Lowri Glain (who produced) and SJ Clarkson (who directed) provide engaging characters and benefit greatly from good filmmaking and strong acting.

All four story lines will bring viewers back to see what happens, and all the leads are appealing. Parish is especially good as a doctor who takes her love life as seriously as her medical practice but finds it difficult to resist when her late lover's son proves almost as attractive as his dad.

BBC Wales presents an Ecosse Films and BBC America co-production
Executive producers: Matthew Arlidge, Lucy Bedford, Douglas Rae
Producer: Lowri Glain
Creators: Rachel Anthony, Lowri Glain, SJ Clarkson
Teleplay: Rachel Anthony
Director: SJ Clarkson
Director of photography: Balazs Bolygo
Production designer: Paul Cripps
Composer: Edmund Butt
Editor: Jamie Trevill
Katie: Sarah Parish
Trudi: Sharon Small
Jessica: Olra Brady
Siobhan: Shelley Conn
Hari: Raza Jaffery
Richard: Patrick Baladi
Sam: Max Brown
Dominic: Adam Rayner
Simon: Adam Astill
Lisa: Alys Thomas
Alex: Anna Torv
John: Anthony Calf