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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The People Next Door: Thought provoking and disturbing Docudrama


Last year Channel 4 kept trailing a new docudrama called Cyberbully. The ads looked of interest but I have to admit as a man just getting used to not being tape the charts off the radio I wondered if a drama about a young girl being bullied by a mysterious online hacker would be for me, I was wrong. I was instantly hooked. The best thing about Cyberbully was the fact it felt eerily real. It took an issue facing our internet savvy generation and shone such a powerful light on it that even an old Fogey  like me was drawn in.

The team behind Cyberbully are back with a new docudrama The People Next Door. It's the story of a young couple who buy their first house and slowly begin to suspect all is not well next door. Gemma and Richard are an ordinary couple, they've just found out they're expecting a baby and enjoying a new phase of their lives.  Much like Cyberbully it's a simple story that feels worryingly real. In truth the situation that Gemma (Fish Tank's Joanna Horton) and Richard (Happy Valley's Karl Davies) find themselves unwittingly  involved in could any one of us and that's what makes it so disturbing.


When a toddler runs into their home the young couple don't think much of it but when they start to hear intense arguments through their walls they become concerned for the safety of all the young children living in the house.  Pregnant Gemma becomes increasingly concerned when she spots the other children playing the street with no sign of the young boy.

As Gemma's concern grows, she purchases some surveillance cameras in hopes of at least catching a glimpse of the child who she worries is locked alone in a room. It's an idea that very cleverly makes the viewer in the spotlight and you start to wonder how you would behave if put the same situation.


I also neglected to mention the whole thing is filmed using videocameras, phones and hidden cameras which only helps to add to the feel of realism throughout.  This modern day nightmare asks questions of how far you can go and how well we really know what goes on next door. It's wonderfully tense, atmospheric full of believable performances from its virtual unknown leads. It's an hour of television that will stay with you long after you switch off telly and it may make you question what that strange noise was you heard the other night,

The People Next Door airs Tonight at 9.00pm on Channel 4 

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