let’s play designer kitchen Cluedo, as this thriller heats up

Bang goes my theory. My guess after the opening episode of Hollington excursion (ITV) was that 10-year-old Alex hadn’t gone missing in the woods at all. He was just lost somewhere in Anna Maxwell Martin’s expansive kitchen. Just when everyone had given up hope, she’d suddenly find him curled up asleep in her KitchenAid’s mixing bowl or hiding behind her collection of River Café cookbooks.

No such luck, sadly. Suburban sisters Theresa (Maxwell Martin) and Helen (Rachael Stirling) were nevertheless trying to untangle their children’s conflicting stories when the titular “cool-de-sac” was moved by news that the boy’s body had been found. This was now a murder-mystery, albeit one with aspirational, architectural trimmings.

The police investigation duly intensified, with DS Parks (the dependably excellent Jim Howick) grilling the yummy mummies and laddy daddies of “The excursion”. Curtains twitched. The gossip grapevine hummed.

Theresa’s son Ben (Fraser Holmes) and his cousin Eva (Amelie Bea Smith) claimed they’d chanced across classmate Alex’s corpse and tried to revive him with CPR. Worried that touching him would make them look guilty (spoiler: it very much did), they “hid” his body in a nearby pond. “Am I going to prison?” sobbed Ben. Only for crimes against acting, sonny.

Eva’s subtly different account indicated Ben, instead of herself. Naturally, both mothers were inclined to believe their own little darlings – a dramatically effective and all too plausible development. The sisters were soon having tense conflabs in the dead of night. Because that never looks suspicious in the aftermath of a murder. Theresa promptly made herself look already shadier by sneaking off to prod around in the pond.

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