From the opening credits of Mayday you could think you have sat down to watch the cosy country crime of Midsomer Murders.
But this five-part drama is much darker and quickly leaves its characters doubting whether they can trust the people closest to them.
It opens on Mayday in a village on the Sussex Downs. Hattie, the teenage May Queen, cycles round the village. Her neighbours are dressed as morris men and a Green Man.
Then, in a scene recalling Danish crime drama The Killing, we hear her frightened breathing and screams as she runs through trees.
When her family and friends realise she is missing, anger and recriminations flare up.
A search party is formed. It’s soon obvious that the apparently idyllic village is a mass of property development and barely contained violent resentments.
And unlike the conservative fantasy of Midsomer, the village has black and Asian characters.
Fiona (Sophie Okonedo) is a police officer taking time off work to spend with her children.
It looks as though she will be unofficially investigating the disappearance.
Her husband Alan (Peter McDonald) is acting oddly. But then most characters have something to hide.
Everett (Aiden Gillen) has a large heavy bag in a padlocked cupboard. His son has secrets too.
Malcolm (Peter Firth), a self-described “complete bastard” and property developer, only joins the search because he needs allies on the council.
Hattie and her twin Caitlin are both well played by Leila Mimmack, who is older than her character.
This may be a device to make the audience see the young people through the adult characters’ warped ideas about teenagers.
The atmosphere is sinister and the message clear—live in cities.
by Ben Court and Caroline Ip
Directed by Brian Welsh
BBC One, 9pm, nightly from Sunday 3 March
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