“B******s, you’re irreplaceable”…and then of course you know what is likely to come next in BBC1’s three-part psychological thriller The Replacement.
Ellen (Morven Christie) works for an edgy firm of Glaswegian architects. She has just secured a £12.2 million contract to build a library. She then realises it is morning sickness rather than the after-effects of too much Champagne to celebrate.
And so begins an uncomfortable descent into fears which lay within the very fabric of some Generation X and Y women facing the daunting prospect of attempting to have it all with the show offering an honest (in a non-‘ranty feminist’ sort of way) focus on the treatment of working mothers.
Hello Paula (Vicky McClure). The self-deprecating interviewee gets nods of approval, including from Ellen, who actively encourages the bosses to choose her as her maternity cover. She’s ready and raring to return to work now her daughter is 10.
However, viewers’ brows soon begin to furrow. We feel Ellen’s disconcertion as Paula has somehow already managed to get hold of her winning plans – and they are now clarted with her red Sharpie scribble ‘improvements’. The client adores the eager and efficient new addition to the team. Management cannot fault her fresh visions and conscientiousness. Colleagues are enchanted by her. The cuckoo in the nest further beds down with a killer presentation as her uninvited stroke of Ellen’s bulging belly is most unwelcome.
Cut to Paula staring out of windows and the wide eyes of her husband Kieran. Something is afoot.
The blossoming Ellen starts to play detective as her gut is telling her more than her daughter has gone past the size of a small banana.
Or is it all in her head? She has battled with mental health issues in the past after losing her mum. That is how she met her laid-back psychiatrist partner Ian, who married his patient. Is there not a code of conduct against that type of thing?
Then her signature skylight proves deadly.
A red lipstick where it should not be. You can see the access code is going to be changed. Check the use-by date on those sleeping tablets. Who does get the soul-destroying job of Windowlening all the fingerprint marks off all that glass in their office – that was a design fault if ever I saw it.
Two and a half hours of tension will leave you wondering how will all these ragged ends be tidied up? It is now the early hours of Tuesday this week and I am doing the whole lot in one sitting via the BBC iPlayer. Imagine my slight frustration then as the excellent actors and cracking story are hurried along into the denouement, which tips it into melodrama territory. A missed opportunity indeed, however, very much still worth the watch.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place” so said George Bernard Shaw.
And this is the case time immemorial – and proves to also be relevant when aliens start popping up across the globe.
Out to buy or rent now is Arrival.
Amy Adams stars as Dr Louise Banks, a linguist of world renown, who has the American government rocking up on her doorstep demanding she have a word with the space craft voyagers.
Administrations around the world are attempting to make contact and decipher the language and failing, plunging the planet to the threshold of unprecedented global war.
As misinterpretation reins, there is a race against time to crack the message plus a very human hidden past to navigate.
If you like sci fi, you are going to love it. If you like suspense, you are going to love it. If you like mystery, you are going to love it.
And they nurture and coax and care for the ending here.