James Nesbitt last night endured every man’s worst nightmare. No, he wasn’t forced to watch a rerun of last Saturday’s X Factor; he was starring in BBC Ones new thriller/drama ‘The Missing’ in which he lost sight of his young son in a foreign country for a mere moment. This minor lapse in attention led his alter ego Tony Hughes, and his family, into the horrific ordeal of a missing child situation; one that, 8 years on, where certain strands of this story pick up, still haunts him.
The Missing tells the story of the Hughes family’s agony on two separate timelines; one which builds up to and shows the immediate aftermath of Oliver’s tragic disappearance and the other which looks at how the characters continue to struggle in the present day, eight years later. The direction and writing of the episode, where characters are effectively introduced twice and events are portrayed in a non consecutive manner, keep viewers on their toes and hold attention perfectly. It is a tense hour of drama that you can’t take your eye off of for fear of missing anything; and the slow unfurling of the plot already allows, at this early stage, for pieces of the puzzle to start clicking together.
Any parent sitting watching ‘The Missing’ would have been wincing throughout the entire thing; feeling a cold dread in the pit of their stomach in the blink-and-you’d-miss-it moment where Tony loses sight of his son. Once it finished, I have no doubt many would have went upstairs and given their children extra tight hugs too for this is a drama that tells a brutally human story; in a non sensational way and it sticks with you long after it airs.
There can be surely no worse human experience in the world than losing a child, and James Nesbitt, together with sensational writing and direction and a haunting soundtrack, captures the true pain of this situation agonisingly well. From those first nauseating moments that every parent has experienced in losing sight of the child to his collapse in the square amidst a celebrating crowd of football fans as he realised Oliver was nowhere to be found; Tony’s transition from doting, fun loving father, to a broken man was the most powerful drama I have seen since Broadchurch.
Set over 8 episodes, The Missing promises to be a slow burner; so the full truth will not be uncovered any time quickly, but this is a journey, no matter how uncomfortable a watch it may be, that I am happy to invest in. This is a raw, gritty drama that is so rare in the UK nowadays that when something of such high quality comes along, it really does knock us breathless.
Already, seeds of intrigue have been planted along the way. How did Tony’s wife end up dating one of the officer’s on the case? Where did Oliver go after being taken into the cellar where Tony found the chalked drawing of himself on the wall? How trustworthy is this journalist? It’s a show that is proving to be a huge talking point and I got some views from my fabulous Twitter followers after it aired. Here’s a selection of them:
@Walkerclanfan is less than keen on Emily’s new partner, Mark, commenting that he has a suspicious face, not unlike Two Face from Batman. In fact, the only person she trusts right now is James Nesbitt’s character, Tony.
@thesuzziq thought that the show was excellent and captured the pain, helplessness and horror of being unable to find your beloved child. I have to say I agree; while no writing or acting could ever truly convey what it must be like; this was the closest possible thing.
@am_bonmatin agreed with @Walkerclanfan that Mark seemed a bit suspicious but wondered if he could be a red herring, deducing that he may just be too obvious. She is also wondering what secret Tony and his father in law are hiding, as is @lauradragon who agrees that it must be something serious to have potentially prompted a reprisal kidnap.
Meanwhile @DippySingh79 places the blame elsewhere; what if it were the receptionist at the hotel who took Oliver in a moment of desperation; possibly because she can’t have children of her own? It’s most definitely a theory.
But what do you think? I’d love to hear your theories in the comments box below. Meanwhile, get following me on Twitter and join in the discussion; you could be gracing the infamous pages of Pauseliveaction with your weird and wonderful thoughts someday soon. That’s one to tick off the bucket list surely? https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA
Written By our Man In The North