Review: The Missing

Image credit: BBC Press Office

BBC’s new eight-part drama, The Missing is hardly light, happy-go-lucky viewing, and certainly not one to kick back and relax to after a hard day’s slog sobbing over dusty tomes in the UL. However, if you’re looking for gripping, tear-jerking excitement, this new thriller, subtly channelling elements of the Madeleine McCann case, will certainly do the trick.

The premise is of an otherwise ordinary couple, Emily and Tony Hughes, whose adorable five year old son, Oliver, disappears in the crush of a baying crowd in the Brazil-France Cup Final. What ensues is a nationwide manhunt, a broken marriage, and a covert operation, as the storyline switches between the immediate, tragic present of a desperate man trying to pursue the past of a case that was long since abandoned as hopeless, and the situation eight years prior when the initial investigation for Oliver was carried out.

 As the first episode commences, fraught with tension, you begin to suspect every middle-aged male passing by the family as potential abductor, leaving you on tenterhooks as the episode builds up to Oliver’s disappearance. The Missing is incredibly engaging, pulling the heartstrings of the watcher so that when Oliver, with his Bambi eyes, and budding talent in drawing stickmen (a clue that will prove useful later, leading to a genuinely chilling, spine-tingling end of episode one) vanishes, you may well be left wailing banshee-like at the screen, shouting “Why did you let go of his hand?”

The cast is strong, particularly James Nesbitt, who is brilliant as the haggard, broken drunkard father Tony clutching at straws, and Said Taghmaoui as the darkly ambitious journalist who tries to dig up dirt on said protagonist for salacious gossip. The program is not, however, without its flaws - if your grasp of French doesn’t go beyond GCSE the crucial lack of subtitles may make you feel slightly like you’re missing vital information.

Nevertheless, The Missing has left us with so many unanswered questions: what is the elusive Chamartaines that the journalist is using as blackmail fodder for police information on the Hughes’ case? Is Vincent the Paedophile, an un-convicted suspect back at the time of Oliver’s disappearance, his abductor? And how is the Shady Scotsman, who at the conclusion of episode two is seen conferring mysteriously with Vincent, despite offering to help the Hughes provide a reward for Oliver’s recovery, linked to all of this? Answers await us in the next tantalising episodes!

8/10.

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