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The best weeknight drama on TV



The best weeknight drama on TV

Its title was a little bit of a tip-off, however issues weren’t as cosy as they appeared in Channel 5’s intriguing new drama The Cuckoo. With viewers primed to identify an intruder within the nest (or relatively, the sprawling household farmhouse the place the collection was set), its first episode delivered that promised plot with skilled pacing, dropping tantalising clues alongside the best way.

Between her fraught relationship along with her teenage daughter Alice (Freya Hannan-Mills), and her embattled marriage to husband Nick (Lee Ingleby), Jessica Haynes (Claire Goose) couldn’t appear to catch a break. So when charismatic artist Sian (Jill Halfpenny) answered the household’s advert for a lodger – “I used to be passing… simply thought I’d likelihood my arm” – Jessica thought she’d struck some overdue good luck. However given the viewer was primed to identify an invader, there was one thing fishy about Sian’s fake nonchalance – textbook dramatic irony, and really efficient it was too.

Cementing her place in the home by whipping out an envelope full of money to cowl a shocking invoice – “No stress however, you understand, if it helps” – Sian moved in virtually immediately. And whereas Nick was shaken at coming residence to discover a stranger residing in his home, Sian wasted little time ingratiating herself with Alice and Jessica, cooking elaborate breakfasts and positioning herself as extra of a buddy than a housemate.

Jessica (Claire Goose) with daughter Alice (Freya Hannah-Mills), who turns into the main focus of the interloper’s consideration (Photograph: Steffan Hill/Channel 5)

Though her motives had been a thriller, it was clear that Sian needed to get as shut as doable to the Haynes household; one after the other, she discovered methods to control them. And when Jessica opened up over a drink, she had the ammunition she wanted to manage each halves of the couple: “Nick had an affair. […] It was this girl at work, so now there’s no job. We purchased the farm to flip it however now we’re caught right here.”

Whereas Sian’s behaviour with Jessica gave the impression to be an easy means to an finish, her curiosity in Alice was charged with one thing totally different. As she bonded with the prickly teenager over their shared love of artwork, there was a definite sincerity to her flattery: “You actually have one thing,” she stated. “I see you, Alice.” Silky and sinister, Halfpenny’s efficiency lent Sian a chilling depth; her flinty gaze prompt somebody keen to go to excessive lengths for what she needed. However what was that?

Regardless of Sian’s appeal offensive, Nick’s suspicions grew, however with Jessica refusing to query her new buddy, he was pressured to take issues into his personal fingers. Behind the couple’s divergent approaches was the spectre of Nick’s infidelity, including complexity to their characters and colouring their each interplay with unstated rigidity – a dynamic not misplaced on Sian, who used it to her benefit when Nick abruptly requested her to depart. ‘I’ve seen the best way you have a look at me”, she stated. “I may depart, however I’m simply questioning how that’s going to search for Jessica and Alice…”

Tense scenes of Sian and Nick slinking round the home, every making an attempt to concurrently keep away from and survey the opposite, constructed to the episode’s crescendo – such gratifying suspense made it simpler to forgive the present’s extra eye-roll worthy moments (Nick swinging apart a household portrait (!) to disclose a secret protected (!), as an illustration, appeared particularly heavy handed).

Regardless of the occasional lapse into cliche, the present was far slicker than it was foolish. As Sian delivered a scrumptious cliffhanger throughout a late night time telephone name: “I’ve discovered her; I’m going to get my child again” – the stage was set for a best-in-class weeknight drama as The Cuckoo’s first episode got here to a detailed. Nicely paced, effectively written, effectively acted – The Cuckoo won’t be reinventing its style, however it’s fairly exemplary of it.

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