Review: Channel 5 drama The Drowning fails to make a splash as the plot gets swamped by the tinkles on the soundtrack

It’s been quiet during lockdown, the usual hustle and bustle of the streets silenced by the Covid-19 restrictions, but this week I was sure I developed tinnitus, such was the ringing in my ears.
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I needn’t have worried, however, as it turned out I’d just been watching The Drowning (Channel 5, Mon-Thurs, 9pm) and the tinkly sound was the ambient soundtrack to this rather underwhelming thriller.

There were wind chimes, and softly-hit tubular bells and squeaky hinges and someone blowing across the tops of milk bottles, and if the four-part drama had been good, it might not have been so distracting, but it was all so dull, the underscore of creaks and squeaks became a dominant feature.

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Jill Halfpenny played Jodie, a mum whose life had been ripped apart when her son Tom disappeared – presumed drowned – on a family trip to the lake.

Jill Halfpenny starred in the Channel 5 drama The DrowningJill Halfpenny starred in the Channel 5 drama The Drowning
Jill Halfpenny starred in the Channel 5 drama The Drowning

But then she spots a boy who looks remarkably like Tom, now a shaggy-haired teenager, and proceeds to stalk him – getting a job at his school, inviting herself round to his house, getting him a session at her ex-husband’s recording studio – in an effort to prove he’s her son. We’ve seen it before in the superior The Missing – in fact it’s so similar, you expect Tcheky Karyo to pitch up and solve the case.

Nothing is believable – Jodie runs a gardening business in such a way that you suspect she’s never even seen a lawnmower – while the dialogue is stilted and the finale’s big reveal scene is so underpowered it leaves you wondering why you wasted four hours watching it all.

“I can’t make any more sense of it than you,” says Jodie, and it may have been the tinkly sounds in my ears, but that was the only thing that rang true.

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Unforgivable (Dave, Tues, 10pm) was good fun, a panel game in which the hard-to-follow format was quickly abandoned as the guests told host Mel Giedroyc their darkest secrets.

I was wrong a fortnight ago when I was a bit sniffy about The Bay (ITV, Weds, 9pm). I’ve watched more episodes on ITV Hub now and it’s fair to say I’m hooked, Episode 3, in particular, has a real shock.

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