The missing child is hardly an unfamiliar motif in crime drama. But it’s still an odd coincidence that tomorrow’s second episode of BBC1’s five-part thriller (it runs every night at 9pm until Thursday), addressing about the impact of an apparent abduction on a small community, is up against ITV’s similarly themed ‘Broadchurch’. Happily, there’s enough to distinguish them, but also more than enough quality and intrigue to make both worth watching.
‘Mayday’ is all about the atmosphere: there’s a creeping unease underpinned by pagan imagery as the residents of a Sussex town respond to the disappearance of their May Queen. A search party is deployed and quickly gets out of control. A violent father locks a mysterious bin bag away from prying eyes. A local policeman’s jittery behaviour rouses the dormant investigative instincts of his wife, a former copper. It’s one of those shows where everyone’s a suspect, but ‘Mayday’ is far from genre-by-rote. The unsettling tone and high-calibre cast (Sophie Okonedo, Lesley Manville, Aidan Gillen) should keep you coming back all through the week.