Couple's hidden secrets threaten to be exposed
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.