The Drowning

Rating 7.1
Streamer My5
Seasons 1
Episodes 4 x 50 mins

The Drowning follows the story of a young boy called Tom who disappears on a family day out by the lake. After a bit of searching, the case is then closed by the (apparently incompetent) local cops, his Mum Jodie plunged into grieving for her maybe-dead son. Then one day, nine years later, Jodie is driving along when she spots a boy who looks just like her son, right down to the scar that sits beneath his left eye.

Is anyone else reminded of another, real life unsolved case? Us too…

This mawkish muddle Jodie finds herself in is the premise for this Channel 5 thriller, which continues in an equally contrived way, with a mourning mum on a mission to find her son by whatever means possible. Methods she uses include stalking the kid’s dad, playing teachers in his school, and following him home on the bus. That all sounds sane, doesn’t it?

It is absolutely guaranteed to have you screaming at the telly, “that would never happen!” And yet somehow, it’s still a wonderful watch. This is in partly thanks to the brilliant acting of Jilly Halfpenny and Rupert Penry-Jones as Jodie and Mark – the boy in question’s maybe-father – and to a straightforward storyline which avoids the over complications that many thrillers fall victim to. And above all, what sits at its very core is the struggles of a heartbroken parent, a topic which is sensitively handled by this Channel 5 series.

The no-nonsense nature of the show is probably not for everyone, and by the looks of it, not for The Times’s Carol Midgely. She calls it “daft-as-a-brush,” and spent a good portion of the review dragging the producers for having their main character wear a coat “which looked like my dog’s third favourite blanket.” Clearly The Drowning caught Carol on a bad day.

Luckily, The Telegraph’s Anita Singh could see past the plaid, to the “highly watchable,” show “competently acted by its leads to keep us guessing.” Lucy Mangan of The Guardian also enjoyed this “compelling” drama, and says “while the premise is slightly hokey, the way in which it unfolds is not.”

An added bonus is that there are only four episodes, meaning we don’t have to sit for hours to find out whether that scar is just an unhappy coincidence.  

First shown February 2021. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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