The Nest, BBC One
- Brian Donaldson
- 26 March 2020
Cliffhanger-happy surrogacy thriller series stretches believability to snapping point
The topic of surrogacy, with its myriad levels of rights, practicalities and ethics, is a complex beast for any writer to throw themselves into. Based on several episodes of The Nest, it's clear that screenwriter Nicole Taylor (Wild Rose) has made sure every nook and each cranny has been explored to cut off any accusations of half-bakedness. But a socially-aware drama is not necessarily how this BBC series is being touted, with a 'thriller' tag attached presumably not to turn off some viewers who might recoil at the prospect of a 'worthy' Sunday night drama.
Emily (Sophie Rundle) and Dan (Martin Compston) are at the end of the baby-making road with one more egg left in the tank after their latest surrogate (his sister Hilary) suffers a miscarriage. By some stroke of fortune, Hilary (Fiona Bell) is a nurse who was treating Kaya (Mirren Mack) when she started to bleed. Kaya, you see, was in hospital after bashing up her knee after running out in front of Emily's car.
From there the obvious course of events is for Kaya to play on Emily's sympathies and ignore Dan's passive-aggression to become their last-ditch foetus-carrier. Except, there's some dark stuff lurking in Kaya's past which threatens the karma which Dan and Emily have cultivated in their ludicrously hygge home. As this is a Glasgow-set drama, Compston can thankfully ditch his Line of Duty mockney accent and don his beloved Celtic top without any accusations firing his way of inauthenticity, and there's similarly no problem with his English-rose wife saying 'Bishopbriggs' as though it's two words.
While there's no doubting the levels of research that have been undertaken toward getting the details on surrogacy right, the twists and turns within this five-parter are eyebrow-raising to say the least. The audience is treated as adults regarding surrogacy issues one minute, but considered to be imbeciles the next as though it's quite impossible for us to remember crucial story developments from one episode to the next. So the image of a person whose body is fished out of the Clyde keeps flashing in front of us whenever they are subsequently mentioned as though our collective memories have been utterly shot to pieces: perhaps the makers of The Nest forgot the 'Previously On' facility which is ready-made to help us catch up.
With its cliffhangers and teaser elements, The Nest will almost certainly keep viewers hooked to the bitter end. That's a testament to Nicole Taylor and her team even if we might have forgotten about this drama by the time we emerge from isolation.
Episodes watched: 4 of 5
The Nest airs on BBC One, Sundays, 9pm; episodes available on BBC iPlayer.