23 March 2020 00:35
The Nest**** BBC1 FORGET about the column inches Michelle Mone has racked up, or the seat in the House of Lords. Nothing says you have officially arrived more than a name check in a BBC Sunday night drama. "I'm going to be an entrepreneur," says the troubled teenager at the heart of The Nest. "Know that lassie that invented that bra? Michelle Mone?
Now she's a baroness or some ****." (Somehow I can't see Miche putting that description on her business card.) The Nest is set in Mone's hometown of Glasgow. While ostensibly a drama about surrogacy, it is really a tale of two cities, two Scotlands, the haves and the have nots. Property developer Dan and his musician wife Emily (Martin Compston and Sophie Rundle), have everything, including a stunning lochside home, but not the child they long for. Kaya (Mirren Mack) has a flat in Possil with barely a stick of furniture in it, and the kind of temper that sees her threaten to stab her case worker with a bottle. The opposites collide when Emily gets lost one night and hits 18-year-old Kaya with her car. So far, so Bonfire of the Vanities. The teen starts to work her way into the older woman's life and, long story short, offers to be a surrogate in return for £50,000. Dan thinks this is a crazy idea, not to mention illegal. As does his sister, his lawyer, Emily's colleague, and probably every viewer watching. Many a drama would struggle to get beyond such a point, but the writer here is Nicole Taylor (Wild Rose, also set in Glasgow, and Three Girls, about the Rochdale child sex abuse scandal), who carefully takes each objection and picks away at it. READ MORE: Susan Swarbrick meets Martin Compston Ultimately, the viewer has to believe that Emily is unhinged by grief, and that Dan would give in because he is desperate to keep her. Madness happens when people convince themselves a situation is all or nothing, black or white. That is how noir works. Even so, Taylor's story is such a high-wire act that it needs to keep propelling itself onwards at speed or it will crash to the ground in a heap of improbabilities. Helping immensely with the task of keeping the viewer on side is a terrific cast. Rundle is a convincing mix of fierce determination and eggshell fragility. Mack, a real find, does that bravest of things as an actor and makes herself an unlikeable pain in the neck. Then there is Compston. Once the prince of Sunday nights as Essex wide boy DS Arnott in Line of Duty, he is even better back on his home turf and in his own accent. It was a nice touch by Taylor to make Dan a bad boy made good, even if the working class/middle class contrast was laid on a a bit thick. Every time Kaya appeared the score would slip into menacing music mode, as though people who do not live in beautiful lochside homes were naturally best avoided. What a house, mind. As in Guilt, Glasgow scrubbed up well. While The Nest's location choices were more obvious – the Botanic Gardens, City Chambers, Kelvingrove Park – so far there is not a red sandstone tenement in sight. With four episodes to go, Taylor's cleverly sleekit drama is shaping up nicely, playing on viewers' assumptions. There is a cuckoo in the nest here, but who is it? The Nest, BBC1, review: Gripping drama made up for an implausible central plot Sophie Rundle and Martin Compston lead the well-cast show, written by Three Girls writer Nicole Taylor By Jeff Robson Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 10:00 pm Updated Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 10:01 pm Sophie Rundle and Martin Compston play a couple struggling to conceive (Photo: BBC) The Nest, BBC1, Sunday, 9pm ★★★★ The only problem with The Nest, BBC1's latest well-cast, handsomely staged and tautly written prime-time drama, is its implausible central premise; a well-heeled couple desperate to have a child entrust the surrogacy to a chance-encounter stranger who is clearly not all she seems. When Glasgow-based music teacher Emily (Sophie Rundle) almost runs over troubled teenager Kaya (Mirren Mack) and becomes involved in what seems to be a confrontation with Kaya's controlling older partner, she is struck by a desire to help her. Dropping Kaya at the hospital, she points her in the direction of her sister-in-law Hilary (Fiona Bell) for a no-questions-asked check-up. i's TV newsletter: what you should watch next i's TV newsletter: what you should watch next Thanks for signing up! Sorry, there seem to be some issues. Please try again later. Submitting... In a second massive coincidence, this is interrupted when Hilary begins to miscarry. She's the surrogate in a failed attempt by Emily and Dan (Martin Compston) to start a family. Kaya uses the knowledge to work her way into the couple's lives and offer them a deal; paying for surrogacy is illegal in the UK but, for an off-the-books fee of £50,000, she will take Emily's last viable embryo. But the truth about the initial encounter, and Kaya's past, gradually comes to light… The fact that the first episode was so gripping despite the implausibilities is a tribute to Nicole Taylor (who also wrote the excellent Rochdale grooming drama Three Girls) and the quality of the performances. The gripping drama made up for the rather far-fetched plot (Photo: BBC) Rundle is as compelling as she was in Gentleman Jack as the high-achieving but emotionally battered Emily. And Compston (swapping his Line of Duty Cockney accent for his native Glaswegian) is convincing as a working-class boy-made-good property developer prepared to use any means necessary to find the truth about Kaya's mysterious background.