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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

What to expect from BBC1's 'The Child in Time'

Sunday sees the anticipated single drama The Child in Time.  Adapted by Stephen Butchard from Ian McEwan’s Whitbread Prize winning novel, The Child In Time is a lyrical and heartbreaking exploration of love, loss and the power of things unseen. Benedict Cumberbatch stars Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children's books, is confronted with the unthinkable: he loses his only child, four year-old Kate, in a supermarket.

In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realises that his daughter is gone. With tenderness and insight, the drama explores a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate's absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on diverging paths as both struggle with an all-consuming grief. With the passage of time, a balance of sorts returns, until hope surfaces and triumphs unexpectedly.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen, Kelly Macdonald as Julie, Stephen Campbell Moore as Charles and Saskia Reeves as Thelma.

In the below video Benedict Cumberbatch discuss the difficulty of playing his character and a chat with Stephen Butchard who has adapted the book for the BBC.

Interview with Stephen Butchard, screenwriter

How did you become involved in The Child In Time?
I got a call from Helen Gregory [Executive Producer for Pinewood Television] asking if I’d be interested and I more or less immediately answered yes. I read it 25 years ago and it’s a book that stays with you. I knew it would be a challenge but at the same time I knew I wanted to do it. So it was as simple and easy as that, I was asked and said yes!

Is it hard to write a screenplay of such a popular book?
The unique tone and atmosphere is so important so I had to make sure I captured and preserved that. The best way I found to do that was to focus on the characters and make sure they stood up as real and truthful people, especially Stephen and Julie. I was really looking forward to capturing the ‘sense of other’ that’s in the book. I knew it would be a challenge to do but it was so important in the book.

As was Charles’s story. I was least looking forward to the actual disappearance of Kate because it’s something that has been done a few times before and it doesn’t define the drama. Benedict is brilliant in that scene and Julian did a great job directing it, it feels so real and I believed it.

How does it differ from other dramas about children going missing?
It’s about the strength of the people the child has left behind. It’s not about a quest to find the missing child it’s about a quest to survive when that happens to you. It’s about how wonderful people can be at dealing with something so traumatic. Yes grief is there and you can’t ignore it - it has to be present - but I wanted it to be a story of love, strength and courage. How people go through something awful and still continue. The grief is ongoing but there’s also hope and the scenes where that is reflected were really important to me.

How important was getting the right cast for it?
In the first instance it was so important to get Benedict in it, not just because he will bring people to watch it but also because, most importantly, of his quality. He brings out all the nuances and makes you feel exactly what Stephen is feeling. Kelly Macdonald is the same, she’s absolutely brilliant and they work very well as a couple. You can sense the love they feel for each other and that they need to both look after themselves and each other.  Charles was always going to be difficult to cast and when we saw Stephen Campbell Moore’s audition we knew he was perfect. And I don’t know how Saskia can show such love and pain in just one facial expression as she does when she’s playing Thelma.

What can viewers expect from The Child In Time?
It’s the story of the love, courage and strength of an ordinary man and woman who manage to take one step forward each day after a tragic event. It’s not harrowing, yes the event is harrowing,but it will hopefully be ultimately uplifting for people who watch.

Child of Time can be seen Sunday at 9.00pm on BBC One.

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