Firmly English yet ambitious in its concept

Heavily hyped when first screened earlier this year, Five Days has the hallmarks of a BBC/HBO collaborative production; quintessentially English yet ambitious in its concept.

Its five episodes each cover a different day in the aftermath of the disappearance of Leanne. It’s a situation that stretches the emotions of her partner Matt (David Oyelowo), her two children and her parents (played by Patrick Malahide and Penelope Wilton). Meanwhile, the police and their associated support networks struggle to make a breakthrough.

Five Days is less about the crime and more a focus on the effect it has on different characters; it exposes their agendas, insecurities and foibles. Oyelowo, Sarah Smart (as media heroine Sarah Wheeler) and Janet McTeer (retiring career detective Amy Foster) all impress, but the cast is unbalanced by the clichéd characters of seemingly the police force’s worst PR rep Defne and comically ambitious local hack Josh.

Five Days can be admired for its tension, reaching a crescendo as each episode reaches its conclusion. The epic running time (five hours) allows each tiny facet of the characters to be exposed although there’s occasionally a sense that the plot is merely filling time. With a decent, if hardly jaw-dropping, finale, Five Days is as good as UK TV dramas have been in 2007, but it’s no Cracker or Jake’s Progress.

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