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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Denis Lawson, Tessa Peake-Jones, Jamie Thomas King, Alex Kingston, Dean Andrews, Anne Reid and Shelley Conn
ITV Studios Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 07 March 2011

Marchlands tells the story of three different families living in the same house over different time periods - 1968, 1987 and 2010. The families are linked by the spirit of a young girl, Alice, who drowned in the local lake, Blackwater Tarn, in mysterious circumstances in 1967...

This five-part ITV drama constantly flips between the three different families that lived in the same house, Marchlands, in different periods of its history ('60, '80s and 2010). When the story opens we are introduced to Ruth Bowen (Jodie Whittaker), whose eight-year-old daughter drowned in the local river six months previously. It's 1968 and Ruth lives with her husband (Jamie Thomas King) and in-laws (Denis Lawson and Tessa Peake-Jones) and strongly believes that her daughter's death was something more than a tragic accident. Her belief that there is more to Alice's death is causing a strain on their marriage.

Helen (Alex Kingston) and Eddie Maynard (Dean Andrews) are renting Marchlands in 1987. They live with their two children, Scott (Ethan Griffin) and Amy (Sydney Wade), who is eight-years-old. Amy claims has an imaginary friend called Alice, and when odd things start to happen Helen tries to get psychiatric help for her daughter, while Eddie slowly begins to realise that there may be more to his daughter's story than a childhood fantasy.

In 2010 the heavily pregnant Nisha Parekh (Shelley Conn) and Mark Ashburn (Elliot Cowan) have moved into Marshlands. Alone in the house Nisha starts to feel a strange presence and uncovers some of the house's secrets when she discovers a painting underneath the wallpaper. The painting is of a little girl called Alice and, when Nisha's baby girl is born, she decides to call her Alice too. Mark grew up locally, having moved away as a teenager, and knows more about the history of Marchlands than he's letting on. They put an ad in the local paper for a house sitter to help Nisha during the day and the lady who is perfect for the job seems to know more about Marchland's history than anyone else.

The lives of these three families are touched by the tragedy of Alice's death. Is the young girl's spirit still alive and anxious to let people know how she died? Or is there a much more natural explanation.

Extras include a number of bland interviews (obviously designed for those who haven't seen the series - therefore there's nothing much of importance touched upon). There are four interviews in total: Dean Andrews and Alex Kingston (2 min, 56 sec); Director James Kent (4 min, 11 sec); Shelley Conn and Elliot Cowan (3 min, 14 sec); and Tessa Peake-Jones and Denis Lawson (3 min, 28 sec).

While not as "supernaturally spooky" as the original ITV teaser trailers would have you believe, this well constructed drama benefits from a first rate cast and a gripping storyline. If you didn't see this on its original transmission then it's well worth picking up.


Darren Rea

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