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169p4dy

The Radio Times said that the storyline of the new BBC1 mystery drama, Mayday, was “pleasingly fresh”. I don’t know who wrote that particular line, but whoever it was, clearly has not seen much television or movies from the past 30 years or so.

The story is anchored around the sudden disappearance of a 14 year old girl who vanishes while en-route to the local Mayday festivities. She leaves behind her bicycle in a lane that cuts through some menacing looking woods and suddenly every male character comes under suspicion. It is here that the show spends the next 10 to 15 minutes, trying to cram in as many weird and suspiciously acting male characters as it can. I haven’t seen such a collection of clichéd characters in one television program since I last watched an episode of Scooby Doo. The writers must have watched every whodunit from the past 20 years and cherry picked their most stereotypical characters. We have (in no particular order) the hen-pecked middle aged, borderline alcoholic husband. The horny teenage boy, the feckless and abusive father and no thriller would be complete without the weirdo who seemingly lives in the woods. All of these characters have something to hide and we are led to believe that everyone is a suspect, and it is not long before the uncle of the missing girl is leading a restless lynch mob through the woods in search of his niece, before storming the home of the local old man who is accused of liking to watch courting couples in the woods, in another cliché.

The local constabulary seem a bit distant so far in this first episode too, with only a few long shots of a few parked police cars and officers standing around, not really doing much of anything at all. Oh and no DI Burnside from The Bill, type character here, oh no, at least not yet anyway, which you would surely expect to see when a child has gone missing. No, it is all down to the locals, and I was surprised that they weren’t carrying pitchforks and flaming torches whilst marching through the streets to be honest.

The acting is wooden and over the top, apart from the always excellent Peter Firth, who must have agreed to be in this whilst a bit non compos mentis at the Spooks end of show party last year!

The script is trying hard to be dark and mysterious and is desperately wanting to be a 21st century British version of Twin Peaks, however, on this opening showing it is taking on the appearance of a poor imitation of the 1970’s horror classic, The Wicker Man.

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