Monday 16 May 2016


With cases popping up in the news every so often, child abduction can be a sensitive topic. There are questions that we feel like we can’t ask, but they drive us mad with curiosity. There probably aren’t many people out there that don’t conjure up some sort of overwhelming emotion at the thought of it, yet TV doesn’t perhaps explore it as much as it should. Which is why Thirteen is both refreshing  and intriguing to watch.

Ivy Moxam, played by Jodie Comer (who you may remember as Chloe in My Mad Fat Diary) is taken by an unknown man at just 13 years old, and kept hidden way for society for a further 13 years. At age 26 she’s finally reunited with her family, although the abductor is nowhere to be seen, and Ivy clearly isn’t going to settle right back in like her family wish she could. A lot has changed since she’s been hidden in her captor’s cellar – here parents have got divorced, her sister is now engaged (with her fiancé now part of the household) and Tim, Ivy’s childhood sweetheart, has now settled down with a wife.

The mini-series is gripping from the start, as we see Ivy come to terms with the new world around her. I was expecting the focus to be more on Ivy’s time spent in the cellar, but actually we never see any of this – instead we see the aftermath, which is much more compelling. Unlike typical stories such as this, we never see anything from the abductor’s point of view – a lot is through Ivy’s eyes, but then we also get to witness events from both her family’s friend’s points of view. Interestingly, a lot of focus is put on DI Elliot Carne (Richard Rankin) and DS Lisa Merchant (Valene Kane), and how the struggles they face throughout the search for the missing captor put pressure on their own relationship outside of the office.

All of the characters are brilliant, with tension mounting up from the very beginning, and the both crumbling and blossoming relationships that come as a result of Ivy becoming free are all very well done. Jodie Comer is the star of the show – Ivy must have been a challenging role to play and yet Comer acts as if she’s lived through all the horrors herself. Each episode (5 in total) seems to bring a new conflict to her life, and watching how she deals with each one is fascinating. The series is also very good at keeping the viewer guessing – we’re only introduced to new information a bit at a time, and each twist seems to have a few ways in which it could pan out. It wasn’t predictable to watch and there’s lots of different layers than unravel when we least expect them to. If anything wasn’t as good as it could have been, I felt the special effects were overdone – each scene was beautiful enough that it didn’t need any CGI to make it more exciting.

I still had questions at the end of it – some made sense as we weren’t meant to know what happened afterwards, but one particular question bugged me as I felt it had been overlooked. I was also confused that Stockholm Syndrome didn’t play a bigger part – it was briefly mentioned, but made to look as if this would have been Ivy’s fault, and so I didn’t feel it represented that particular issue as well as it could have. There wasn’t anything else that I would have changed though – the writing was superb, and I never would have guessed that the writer, Marnie Dickens, was so young. Thirteen is described as a youth drama, and it hit the 16-25 age bracket really well. However, I think it’s a suitable enough thriller for anyone to watch, and will keep viewers gripped as if they’re living it themselves.

It’s a typically well-done BBC drama, and so I’m giving it 4/5.


Hannah Read

Thirteen at CeX

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