Damien Love’s pick of the week, plus seven-day list­ings

Damien Love’s pick of the week

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - CONTENTS - Tonight The Cry 9pm, BBC One

DS David “Calamity” Budd, the un­lucky Frank Spencer of the body­guard busi­ness, has packed up his bruises, bun­dled his bruised fam­ily into his wee car, and trun­dled them all off into the bruised sun­set for the bruised time be­ing. He may re­turn, on roller­skates, hang­ing off the back of a bus, with a time­bomb pad­locked to his brain, and a bud­ding ro­mance with the en­tire News­night pre­sent­ing team. But for now, how is the BBC to fol­low such a Sun­day night sen­sa­tion?

Adapted from Aus­tralian-born, Glas­gow-based writer He­len Fitzger­ald’s 2013 novel, The Cry doesn’t quite go for the tra­di­tional, gun-tot­ing thriller moves and meathook cliffhang­ers Jed Mer­cu­rio’s se­rial traded in, and might not quite pick up the same kind of au­di­ence num­bers. But this four-part

drama is an in­trigu­ing, com­plex, in­creas­ingly grip­ping crime piece, and qui­etly deals in sub­ject mat­ters that, while not so scream­ingly head­line wor­thy, are more con­tro­ver­sial, and more in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar to many.

De­spite the do­mes­tic scale of the story, the se­ries also pulls out a few mo­ments that, in their own way, ri­val some of Body­guard’s heart­stop­ping set pieces for pro­duc­ing shrill, shred­ded­nerves ten­sion.

But where Body­guard went in for sui­cide vests, The Cry, to be­gin with, sim­ply goes for, well, a cry: the un­end­ing cry of a scream­ing new­born baby.

Such is the cease­less, dis­tress­ing, al­most vis­ceral sound­track to a key scene in tonight’s open­ing episode, drawn out to just be­yond the point you think you can’t stand it any more. It’s in this har­rowed psy­cho­log­i­cal place – float­ing out just be­yond the edge of en­durance – that we meet the pro­tag­o­nist, Joanna, played by Jenna Cole­man in a care­fully judged per­for­mance that feels si­mul­ta­ne­ously close and raw, and yet dis­tant and glass­ily un­read­able.

The sit­u­a­tion, roughly, is this. Joanna, a young teacher, has re­cently had a child with her newish part­ner, Alas­tair, an Aus­tralian work­ing in Scot­land as an oil­slick smooth gov­ern­ment spin-doc­tor. (Play­ing the part, Ewen Les­lie is poised to take over from Dr Foster’s Ber­tie Carvel as the most de­spised hus­band on TV.)

Their baby, Noah, is three-months old, and for Joanna those months have been a bat­tered eter­nity.

Stay­ing at home while Alas­tair heads out to be im­por­tant at his job, she bat­tles daily, nightly ex­haus­tion, un­cer­tainty, lone­li­ness, de­spair and guilt, un­able to crack the magic se­cret of bond­ing with her baby, or solve the im­pos­si­ble puz­zle of how to make his eter­nal, de­mand­ing, deaf­en­ing, drain­ing, un­sat­is­fi­able cry­ing stop.

How – or if – she makes it stop be­comes the mys­tery at the heart of the story. From the be­gin­ning we know some­thing bad has hap­pened, but not ex­actly what.

Adapted for the screen by writer Jacque­line Perske, the se­ries splin­ters con­stantly be­tween dif­fer­ent time frames, gen­er­at­ing a heav­ily omi­nous at­mos­phere. There come frac­tured flashes back to the early stages of Joanna and Alas­tair’s re­la­tion­ship (first meet­ing, first dates, the first time she re­alised he was ly­ing), and then for­ward, of­fer­ing glimpses of a court case, Joanna on trial, a fig­ure of pub­lic spec­u­la­tion and hate.

The main sec­tion, how­ever, fol­lows the cou­ple on a trip to Aus­tralia. Alas­tair is headed down there to try and win cus­tody of his teenage daugh­ter from his ex-wife, Alexan­dra (Asher Ked­die).

This en­tails a flight from Glas­gow to Mel­bourne that be­comes a claus­tro­pho­bic night­mare for Joanna as, while Alis­tair dozes bliss­fully, Noah in­ces­santly screams his lungs out, and the rest of the sleep­less pas­sen­gers fix their re­sent­ment on her. It’s hugely un­com­fort­able watch­ing. You’ll want to watch more.

Joanna, played by Jenna Cole­man

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