There’s nothing comfortable about watching The Replacement. It seems like a taboo conversation to discuss the impact that having a baby really has on the mother’s career, but that is just what the new BBC three-parter sets out to do.
High-flying architect, Ellen (Morven Christie), has just scored a £12.2 million deal for her company, and at the same time, learns she’s pregnant. You’d think that life couldn’t really get better for her, but it is the beginning of her worries. Despite being well-liked at work, the inevitable happens and the company must find maternity cover for Ellen. In walks architectural superstar, Paula (Vicky McClure), to save the day while Ellen goes to have little Leah.
However, problems start for Ellen when Paula becomes a little bit of a show-off and gives the company her best ideas. With fear of losing control of her project, paranoia starts for poor Ellen and she descends into a pit of self-doubt and essentially loses her self-confidence. After arguments and an accident in the building site she shouldn’t have been near, Ellen is suspended. Whilst “working from home”, Ellen finds herself praying for Paula to mess up; her prayers are answered when crying boss Kay (Neve McIntosh) asks her for help. Upon arrival, Ellen is greeted with Kay’s dead body having just fallen through the unstable roof, prompting an early labour.
The drama is less tense, and more interesting. Whilst it’s seen in the papers, not many people are fully aware of the prejudices faced by pregnant women. It’s a clever drama, and one that will definitely hit home with people who have been in the same position, but have failed to speak out. One of the crowning glories within it is the use of doubling. Whilst it’s clear that two mothers are fighting over their baby (the project), the casting doubling is also outstanding. Paula and Ellen have a striking resemblance to one another.
However, the next two episodes have definitely set themselves up for intrigue. What exactly was going on with Kay? Will Ellen’s baby be alright? And why is Paula so unbelievably shady? Seriously, no one is that nice. As Vicky said of her character previously, “she’s a hairy spider”, so just what is she hiding in her web? All will become clear over the next two weeks, that’s for sure. It is the strong leading performances from Christie and McClure that keep you utterly gripped. You’re never really sure of the motives of McClure’s character and it’s all the more intriguing for it.
The Replacement Continues Tuesday at 9.00pm on BBC One
Contributed by Helen Daly