fri 19/04/2019

Glue, E4 | reviews, news & interviews

Glue, E4

Glue, E4

Jack Thorne's latest is a gripping whodunit set in the English countryside

Billy Howle (left) and Jordan Stephens as teenage friends who become involved in a murder mystery

Jack Thorne's new eight-part drama is set in a fictional but recognisable small English village, Overton, where life is centred on farming and racehorses. A green and pleasant land? Not so much; this is a series with a group of pill-popping, shagging teenagers at its heart – well, it is from the man who wrote Skins.

In the opener, we meet the group of friends as they play a game of chicken, jumping into a huge grain silo. It's reckless, but it's fun, as is drinking all night then stealing a car and driving like a maniac through the narrow country lanes. And when it all goes wrong and one of them crashes the stolen vehicle, they can call on their mates to help them burn it out and keep shtum about it. But these are no aimless youths – they have jobs and ambitions; in Tina's case, she wants to be the first female jockey to win the Derby, while her charismatic boyfriend Rob (Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks) will soon be off to university, no doubt with his never-ending supply of pharmaceuticals.

We saw Overton is far from a bucolic idyll

Then the morning after this monster night, one of the friends, James (Billy Howle), finds another of their number, 14-year-old Cal (Tommy Lawrence Knight) dead in a field. The only tears that are shed are James's, and we see that this group – which on first view is tight, has all sorts of tensions and intermingled histories running through it.

Rob never liked Cal, and although he and Tina (Charlotte Spencer) have been lovers since she was 14, he's been playing away with another girl in the group, vet Janine (Faye Marsay), at 24 the oldest of them. Somebody has sent him an anonymous video of he and Janine having sex. Across town, meanwhile, probationary police officer Ruth (Yasmin Paige), who went to school with some of the teenagers and who's half Romany, has been called in to help her more senior colleagues, as Cal was a Traveller.

This is a real departure for Thorne, and the terrific opening episode (with a superb ensemble cast) teed up the tension between the villagers and those living on the Travellers' site, and that between the Travellers and the police. He also efficiently introduced us to this hedonistic group, including Annie (Jessie Cave), the girl who isn't quite attached to anyone in particular, as well as two of their mothers – James's widowed mum (played by Kerry Fox), who has financial problems at the farm she runs with him, and Tina's dipsomaniac ma (Kierston Wareing), whom Tina supports on her meagre wage as a stable girl.

We saw Overton is far from a bucolic idyll and a place where nothing is as it seems – racehorses are not beautiful steeds but million-pound investments, pretty farmyards are dangerous places and romantic barley fields lurk with hidden eyes. As for friends in time of need...

It's already a gripping whodunit that has shades of Broadchurch and The Killing, but which has the unmistakeable Jack Thorne imprimatur. Midsomer Murders without the old people, Jordan Stephens has jokingly called it; it's much more than that.

  • Glue continues on E4 on Monday
It's already a gripping whodunit that has shades of 'Broadchurch' and 'The Killing', but which has the unmistakeable Jack Thorne imprimatur

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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