TV Review: The Woman in the Wall (Episodes 1+2)

Ruth Wilson is once again luminously good in traumatic Irish mystery The Woman in the Wall

“Give me my baby”

Just a quickie for the first couple of episodes in major new BBC drama The Woman in the Wall. Created by Joe Murtagh, it looks to be a crime drama wrapped inside a psychological thriller cloaked in the shocking true history of the Magdalene Laundries (speaking of, Peter Mullan’s The Magdalene Sisters is truly an excellent film- “You’re not a man of God” is still seared on my mind).

Ruth Wilson plays Lorna, a woman we first meet waking from a sleepwalking episode and on her way home, it becomes evident that life has wrought some severe damage on her. At the age of 15, having fallen pregnant, she was sent to the local laundry and along with the other young mothers there, traumatised by the nuns who took their babies who were never to be seen again.

Life now is hollowed out for her but when she receives a note saying they know what happened to her baby, things take a turn for the seriously gothic. And as we follow another plotline where a priest has been found dead in Dublin, the slow entanglement of the stories folds in Daryl McCormack’s lead detective Colman Akande into this controversial and complex period of Irish history.

Predictably, it is challenging work – formally as well as thematically, its dark colour palette suggesting reality might not always be quite what we think it is. Pleasingly though, for all its inherent horror, there’s a cracking vein of humour threaded throughout these opening episodes which offers some small relief. Wilson is already superb, leading the show with a haunted majesty – can’t wait for the rest.

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