Cou­ple's hid­den se­crets threaten to be ex­posed

Macclesfield Express - - TVWEEK -

Have you seen an ad­vert on Chan­nel 4 from Per­sona Syn­thet­ics, sug­gest­ing you can a creep­ily re­al­is­tic robot called Sally to take care of all your do­mes­tic chores?

Well, we’re sorry to dis­ap­point you, but that was just a teaser for this highly an­tic­i­pated eight-part sci-fi drama, which comes from the mak­ers of Utopia and Broad­church, and is based on an award-win­ning Swedish drama.

In this open­ing in­stal­ment, we’re in­tro­duced to Joe Hawkins (Tom Good­man-Hill), whose re­la­tion­ship with his wife Laura (Kather­ine Parkin­son) is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly strained. He thinks that buy­ing a highly de­vel­oped ro­botic ser­vant, known as a synth, to take over some of the chores will give them back the time they need to re­con­nect as a cou­ple.

But while his kids take a shine to ‘Anita’ (Gemma Chan), Laura isn’t quite so con­vinced by this new ad­di­tion to the fam­ily.

Parkin­son, whose pre­vi­ous cred­its in­clude The IT Crowd and In the Club, can un­der­stand her char­ac­ter’s mis­giv­ings.

She says: “From the start, Laura is sus­pi­cious that this syn­thetic isn’t just a syn­thetic, be­cause she says things and does things that feels too hu­man. [Gemma] plays it so well, it’s dif­fi­cult not to be sucked in, she’s so hyp­notic when she’s in syn­thetic mode.”

But it’s the synth’s re­la­tion­ship with her kids that par­tic­u­larly trou­bles Laura.

Parkin­son ex­plains: “The writ­ers cre­ated some nicely drawn scenes where Laura feels that vul­ner­a­bil­ity, that she’s be­ing usurped be­cause she’s just not around. And I must say I was feel­ing that a bit, as I went to work, feel­ing that I was miss­ing my chil­dren. I iden­ti­fied with the feel­ing of what a com­pro­mise and a wrench it is hav­ing to let some­one else look af­ter your chil­dren.”

She adds: “But the whole point of syn­thet­ics is to al­low us to be more hu­man. They’ll take on the more mun­dane jobs so that we can be po­ets or do some­thing that is judged to be more hu­man. It’s a very com­pelling ar­gu­ment, but when it comes into the home… Iron­ing is one thing, but read­ing to your child is an­other. In­evitably it’s not as straight­for­ward as just hav­ing a ma­chine to do the chores.”

Laura isn’t the only one who has a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with her synth, as we’re also in­tro­duced to Ge­orge (Wil­liam Hurt), a re­tired en­gi­neer who treats the mal­func­tion­ing Odi (Will Tu­dor) more like a son that a ma­chine. So, how will he feel when he’s told to up­grade?

The se­cret is out Kather­ine Parkin­son stars.

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