The Guilty – Series 1, episode 1

Chloe Hamilton

THE GUILTY EP1 14 300x199 The Guilty   Series 1, episode 1


SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen Series 1, episode 1 of ‘The Guilty’

The similarities between last night’s The Guilty and award winning ITV thriller Broadchurch were glaringly obvious. Missing child? Tick. Attractive mother? Tick. Brooding father? Tick. Detective trying to juggle work and family life? Tick, tick, tick.

ITV’s new three part drama, which stars Tamsin Greig and Katherine Kelly, is set across two timelines, 2008 and the present day.

Episode one opens with a small boy riding his scooter in 2008, shrieking with laughter in the glowing May sunlight. Suddenly we’re in 2013 and the wettest spring on record. Ominous music and rain beating down on car windows set the scene and we catch our first glimpses of the main characters (read: suspects) through the gloom. Workmen cheerfully dig up a burst water main in a communal garden as we cut to a mother campaigning to find her child, four-year-old Callum Reid, who went missing five years ago. Can anyone guess what happens next?

Of course! Our suspicions are vindicated after the workmen (no longer cheerful) uncover the remains of a child buried in a box the garden. Cue more menacing music and moody lighting.

Pathetic fallacy plays a pivotal role in The Guilty, allowing audiences to distinguish between the two timelines: 2013 is characterised by rain, suspicious strangers and grey, sallow faced parents, while 2008 is all hazy sunlight, friendly neighbours and happy children. It’s a technique which teeters on cliché. Bright and sunny before the murder, dark and desolate after.

The Guilty explores the ways in which a single shocking incident fractures the lives of all those involved and, as with Broadchurch, the series centres on a close knit community.

Arcadian Gardens, the suburban oasis where the story takes place, is populated with comfortable detached homes overlooking a private shared garden in which children play nicely together. Neighbours feed each other’s cats, water each other’s plants, and gossip about each other’s extra marital affairs. In fact, it’s all hunky-dory until little Callum goes missing after an annual village barbecue, prompting a nationwide search.

Tamsin Greig plays DCI Maggie Brand, the detective put in charge of the murder investigation. Olivia Colman won critical acclaim for her role as DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch, cementing her status as one of Britain’s best loved actresses. This jury’s out on whether fellow comic Greig will follow suit.

The first episode didn’t give us too many clues as to who Callum’s killer might be. Of course, the dad looked suspect, which automatically rules him out, likewise the lovesick nanny and her dodgy boyfriend. Fans of Broadchurch will no doubt keep a close eye on Tamsin Greig’s mild-mannered husband.

Ones to watch are the generic Sinister Old Man who warns the workmen not to dig too close to the tree (did he know what they would find?) and the dangerously seductive neighbour Teresa, who spends the majority of the episode pouting and causing punch-ups.

Broadchurch’s storyline was eked out over eight episodes, each one ending in a cliff-hanger so tantalising Monday mornings were nearly always spent gathered around the water-cooler predicting whodunnit. I suspect The Guilty will reveal too much too quickly, cramming too many details into three episodes without the suspense that made Broadchurch so utterly delectable.

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  • sweetalkinguy

    The Australian series “The Slap” is another source for this drama.

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