Marchlands Is Worth Getting Spooked For

Broadcasters strive for better programmes than their rivals. When The Bill and Heartbeat were on its schedule ITV struggled to deliver on this, but recently the channel’s new drama output has been pretty impressive. Period drama Downton Abbey has been incredibly popular--and with good reason--while Trevor Eve’s Kidnap & Ransom has received rave reviews. Now, ITV’s at it again with a fantastic new supernatural five-parter, called Marchlands (Feb 3, 9pm).

The series begins in the present day, as a young couple move into a Yorkshire cottage. Everything seems fine until the true history of their new home is disovered. Thanks to a multitude of flashbacks viewers soon learn that a young girl, who lived there in the 60s, still haunts the place (she drowned in a nearby lake).

As you'd expect, the first person we see to have been affected by Alice's death is her mother Ruth (Jodie Whittaker). Ruth's husband (Jamie Thomas King) and his parents want her to move on but she’s desperate to find out what happened. Similarly desperate are the occupants of the 1980s (Alex Kingston and Dean Andrews) who become increasingly concerned about their daughter’s “invisible friend”. Meanwhile, almost 40 years after the fatal event, Marchlands’ new residents (Shelley Conn and Elliot Cowan) are starting to notice mysterious happenings around their home too.

The cutaways between decades seem blatant and distracting at first; your mind concentrates on the surroundings, rather than the dialogue, as the decor and furnishings quickly change. Each time you’ll notice a new, fascinating detail. But, by the end of the first episode--once the pace has quickened--you'll become accustomed to the transformations thanks to the fluidity of the camera work.

Eras merge together as you discover more about Alice’s affect on the house and its inhabitants. Key to this is the introduction of characters, who reappear in different periods at different ages (so keep your eyes peeles). The atmospheric changes between each distinct era gives you the impression that Alice is slowing finding the missing pieces of a very long game of jigsaw.

Unfortunately, in an interview with, Jodie Whittekar said the series likely to just be a stand-alone piece. “It all wraps up so well at the end I can’t see the need,” she explained. Still, ITV have proved they can commission decent drama so we can at least be hopeful for the future--even if more Marchlands won’t be in it.

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