TV review: The Replacement, BBC One
Morven Christie and Vicky McClure go head-to-head in new thriller
In a recent interview Morven Christie described The Replacement as 'a head-to-head female thriller.' Which pretty much nails the Beeb's latest three-part drama.
Christie stars as Ellen, a young architect who has just secured a huge contract for her firm and received a big promotion. Then she finds out she's pregnant. Ellen wants the baby, but the timing could be better: she's a dedicated employee who loves her job and struggles to step back from her work, until she finds the perfect maternity cover in the form of Paula (Vicky McClure). At first Paula is as nice as pie: brilliant at her job, her colleagues love her, but Ellen has her suspicions. Is Paula a cuckoo in the nest, worming her way into Ellen's life, pushing her into the cold?
However, the story drops just enough nuggets to confuse matters. Ellen can be unreasonable and spiky; she's struggled with mental health problems in the past, and is she overreacting by imagining Paula's power play, just jealous, or suffering from antenatal depression? Then things take a very dark turn in the closing minutes of the first episode.
Christie is a likable lead, but it's McClure who has the most fun creating a character that walks the line between sinister and overly nice. McClure is a fantastic character actor and while The Replacement doesn't require the same flexing of muscles as This is England, she has fun with the ambiguity, keeping us guessing.
It's also great to see Glasgow portrayed as a modern metropolis rather than a generic backdrop. Basing the drama in the city also means there's a strong Scottish cast (including Dougray Scott, Neve McIntosh, Siobhan Redmond and Outlander's Richard Rankin).
The Replacement can be a bit blunt and simplistic at times. However, the two leads anchor the drama, elevating the material.
The Replacement is on BBC One, Tue 28 Feb, 9pm.