Tuesday, 13 July 2010


[July 12, 22.49 - French Time] Genevieve Barr in a brilliant performance. And leaving Primeval is the best thing that could happen to Douglas Henshall, who adds another gem in his resume after the beautiful Collision.

[July 13] Eighteen-year-old Amelia Edwards (Genevieve Barr) has recently been fitted with a cochlear implant, enabling her to hear, and she's undergoing intensive speech therapy to learn to hear for the first time. She breaks free from her protective parents (Gina McKee and Hugh Bonneville) and stays with her party-loving cousins, homicide detective uncle, Jim (Douglas Henshall) and aunt, Maggie (Dervla Kirwan).

Amelia struggles both to accept that she has a place in the hearing world and to live a teenager life. But when she witnesses the hit and run murder of a policewoman her options brutally narrow. Things get even more complicated when she identifies a police officer as one of the killers and must tell what she saw to her uncle, who investigates the case. The situation puts her life in danger and jeopardizes the family as Jim's job in the force could be in the balance.

The Silence is a 4 X 60-minute drama "stripped" this week on BBC One from Monday to Thursday. Directed by Dearbhla Walsh (The Tudors), it's the first British project for Australian writer Fiona Seres. The series, produced by Company Pictures (Shameless), is set in Bristol but was actually filmed in Dublin with former Primeval star Douglas Henshall as another hard-working copper torn between his case and his personal life - after ITV1's Collision.

Henshall leads a stellar cast but the shiniest star of The Silence is 23-year old Genevieve Barr in her first major role, where she shows a promising talent. Born severely deaf in both ears, Barr had to learn to sign for the role and couldn't wear her hearing aids on set because she had to wear the prop cochlear implant of her character. She got the role while she was on the Teach First scheme, teaching in a challenging inner London secondary school.

If the premise is far from original, the premiere is interesting enough to want more and Genevieve Barr is a stunning revelation. Her duo with the always reliable Douglas Henshall recalls the character tandem of ITV's three-part drama Murderland (starring Robbie Coltrane). The script is sensitive and the direction clever. The only reserve for now comes from the format as the idea to strip a drama on four or five consecutive nights becomes more a scheduling gimmick than an event and weighs on the content.


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