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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Glue: A look at E4's beguiling new mystery drama


Escape and isolation are at the heart of the opening episode of Glue, the new E4 series penned by Jack Thorne (Skins, The Fades). An enthralling first hour, this is going to become must watch television over the coming weeks.

The series can be comfortably described as a youth drama, a genre ever expanding and redefining what would have once been used as a dismissive term. Indeed, youth drama is starting to produce some of the best television drama available and all early indications are that Glue has the potential to follow suit. Don't miss out because of any pre-conceptions – they will immediately be thrown out of the window.

This mystery drama focuses on a group of friends in their late teens who live in a rural community. To try to discover a world beyond their small town, they use drugs, drink and test their boundaries. It's all fun and surreal games in a grain silo until one of their party (Cal, of Romany descent and the youngest member of the group) is found dead. He has been murdered. Within the course of the first episode, the remaining friends agree to withhold information from the police in order to protect his reputation or, perhaps, to benefit the killer...


While we're introduced initially to too many characters, the episode eventually focuses on a select few so we feel less guilty about not being able to remember all their names just yet. The performances from Charlotte Spencer (Tina), Rizzle Kicks' Jordan Stephens (Rob) and Callum Turner (Eli – Cal's brother) are solid, the journey from care-free (albeit illegal) hijinks to high drama is natural and practically seamless.  We are drawn to the characters as individuals as well as the group as a whole.

What Thorne and director Daniel Nettheim (Line of Duty, Whitechapel) manage to achieve in Glue's first outing is a believable and gradual setting of the scene. The opening sequence is surreal and beautifully shot, contrasting nicely with the drudgery and hungover normality of the morning after the night before. We instantly understand the predicament of the group yet are also intrigued to see the consequences of their partying unfold.

The number of seeds sown (if you'll pardon the clunky farming terminology) during this first episode is impressive. Not only are we shown the way the group interact, given insight into their individual dilemmas and introduced to a convincing whodunnit but we're also presented with a fascinating setting rife with conflict in the beautiful but arguably stifling rural community (with the Romany community on the outskirts of that). While the first episode hits all the necessary beats, it also  manages to assemble an orchestra that will no doubt come into full effect as the series continues.

Glue Continues Monday at 10.00pm on E4.
Contributed by Jane Harrison 

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