Anna Maxwell Martin AND Rachael Stiring in the same show? As sisters? Hollington Drive sure knows how to tempt me in but can it deliver…
“I never thought this would happen”
One of the newest glossy ITV thrillers is Hollington Drive, precision-tooled to my interests as it has cast Anna Maxwell Martin and Rachael Stirling as sisters Theresa and Helen. And as is par for the course, it is full of wild improbabilities (like those sisters living next door to each other in suburban luxury) and unchallengeable truths (someone has an affair with other neighbour Jonas Armstrong because, well, you would).
The actual story follows the impact on their families of a local boy going missing. Both Theresa and Helen have children who are classmates of 10 year old Alex and on the afternoon he goes missing, Ben and Eva go out to play for a suspiciously long time. When the sisters clock this disturbing detail, they go into overdrive trying to work out if that sickening feeling in their stomachs is justified, forcing them to consider how far they’ll go to preserve the sanctity of their family units.
Created and written by Sophie Petzal and directed by Carolina Giammetta, it is largely very well done. Twisty thriller elements are scattered heavily throughout to keep up the pace and an eerie atmosphere pervades to make it feel just a little different. Both sisters’ marriages experience their own strains, there’s an uncomfortably frank brother-in-law and the questions of reliability about the stories each child is telling push us further into creepy territory.
And both Maxwell Martin and Stirling do exactly what’s expected of them in their complex, slightly antagonistic roles. Maxwell Martin’s cafe owner and perma-harrassed wife and mum teeters on the edge of not quite being able to cope. And the broader confidence of Stirling’s primary school head underscores the complicated depths of their relationship which naturally take their time to unfold. Over the four parts, the story does begin to feel stretched a little thin but it is always watchable.