If Skins took us into the urban world of Bristol teens, now writer Jack Thorne (This is England, The Fades) takes us deep into the lives of rural British youth in his latest drama, Glue.
Set in the fictional town of Overton, this centres around the lives of 6 youth, a group of friends connected through friendship and their regional isolation. But while the English countryside looks lush and inviting, it is far from sleepy. Especially when one of their friends winds up dead.
These kids party after dark on silos, indulging in illicit drugs and sex. By day they work on the farm, the horse stables or the police force.
James (Billie Howie) is expected to take over the farm from his mother, but his sister wants him to break free as he turns 18. Charismatic rich-kid Rob (Jordan Stephens) is dating Tina (Charlotte Spencer) who wants to be the first female jockey to win the Derby. Without parents at his side, Eli (Callum Turner) looks after his little brother while Janine (Faye Marsay) works as a vet.
But Ruth (Yasmin Paige), who is more mature than her contemporaries, works as a young constable and seeks to step up when one of her friends is found dead under a local tractor. When foul play is revealed she is determined to find the killer even if she doesn’t necessarily trust everyone in her own group.
Ruth also speaks Romany, a gypsy language, that adds a nice cultural element and separation to this whodunnit.
But she is not the only one to find cause for suspicion, with Rob receiving anonymous messages and videos that indicate someone has been spying on him.
When tragedy strikes, some of the friends are plunged into despair, others seek solace in partying. Watching how a single incident can splinter and implode a close-knit group is part of the skill of Jack Thorne. As secrets emerge it will become evident that their lives can never be the same.
Glue is also part-directed by Aussie Daniel Nettheim (Dance Academy, Rush, Spirited, Mr & Mrs Murder, K9) who gives this an indie-feel. He works the attitude and the introspection, with a fine young cast who play for truth.
Billie Howie (pictured) and Yasmin Paige are the best of the bunch here, giving grounded performances that contrast with the wild-child characters. Some of the storytelling is a bit of a slow-burn, but while the whodunnit elements may not match Broadchurch or The Fall, we are light years away from Midsomer Murders.
This is a series for those looking for something fresh, and a bit left of centre.
With the added fun of figuring out who the killer is.
Glue premieres 9:30pm Tuesday on SBS 2.