fri 14/06/2024

Passenger, ITV review - who are they trying to kid? | reviews, news & interviews

Passenger, ITV review - who are they trying to kid?

Passenger, ITV review - who are they trying to kid?

Andrew Buchan's screenwriting debut leads us nowhere

Cold feet: detective Riya Ajunwa (Wunmi Mosaku)

The screenwriting debut of actor Andrew Buchan, Passenger ends up resembling a bunch of ingredients looking for a cake.

While characters come out with such meta-observations as “this isn’t Twin Peaks” and “this isn’t Broadchurch” – Buchan having been one of the stars of BroadchurchPassenger contains echoes of both of them, and rather louder ones of Happy Valley.

Set in the fictional small town of Chadder Vale on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border, it’s a tale about the friendships and antagonisms of a closely-knit community which seems to have a sinister cloud hanging over it. More than once we hear characters saying “something is not right with this town”, and they’re not wrong.

The story kicks off with the return to Chadder Vale of Eddie Wells (Barry Sloane), unexpectedly released from jail after serving five years of a 10-year sentence for a vicious assault on local man Jim Bracknell (David Threlfall). He’s now estranged from his wife Joanne (Natalie Gavin) and is generally regarded as the town’s own Frankenstein’s monster. To add extra drama, his daughter Katie (Rowan Robinson, pictured below) has disappeared. We know she was driving her mum’s Fiat Punto, but when the car is found abandoned in the forest on a snowy night, with the remains of a gruesomely-disembowelled stag nearby, alarm bells start to jangle. Especially as the town is still baffled by the unsolved disappearance of a Swedish visitor, Nina Karlsson.

It transpires that Katie’s vanishing is a red herring, and she’s soon back in the bosom of the community (though not too happily, since she’s planning to head for the broader horizons of Manchester). But weirdness is in the air. We’re never sure where Katie was during her temporary vanishing, but she now suffers mysterious nightmarish flashbacks. So does local police officer Riya Ajunwa (Wunmi Mosaku), who is prone to wandering in the dark and frozen forest as eerie noises echo around her.

Though Chadder Vale is peopled with earthy northerners who could well be on furlough from Coronation Street, like Derek Jackson (Daniel Ryan) who runs the local Jumbo Breads bakery, his rather dim brother Kane (Nico Mirallegro) or the eternally belligerent Tony Corrigan (Sean Gilder), something paranormal seems to be existing alongside them. We keep getting hints about some scary creature that roams the forest by night, identified only by weird noises (sometimes it makes clicking sounds like the titular character of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Predator). At one point, a team of brutish-looking geezers in hazmat suits turn up to capture it, although we never see what it is. And what is the creepy black liquid that seems to drip out of the trees? And why is somebody stealing all the town’s waste bins?

Meanwhile the locals struggle with their everyday, kitchen-sink problems. Katie is trying to persuade her boyfriend John (Jack James Ryan) that this town ain’t big enough for either of them and he should come with her to Manchester, but he’s too gormless to get his head round it. Riya has a listless relationship with melancholic Polish garage owner Jakub Makowski (Hubert Hanowicz), where she says things like “if you want to have sex I’m ok with that, but we’re not a couple”, while Jim Bracknell (pictured above) is engaged in an ongoing struggle with eco-protesters who are violently opposed to his fracking concession.

It all seems ripe for an eruption of mass ultra-violence or an outbreak of an alien killer virus, but, outrageously, the story is abruptly sawn off at the end of the final episode 6 just as we’re apparently about to get some answers. I found myself yelling “they must be ••••ing joking” at the TV.

  • Passenger continues on Sundays on ITV. All 6 episodes are available on ITVX


I do not know why I have wasted my hours watching this. What a horror..... ible show

I tried to warn you...

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