Maryland

Maryland

When the name Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey, Vigil, Doctor Foster, Gentleman Jack) is attached to a project it surely demands attention.

Throw in Eve Best (House of the Dragons, Fate: The Winx Saga, The Crown) and Stockard Channing (Grease, Practical Magic) and new BritBox drama Maryland is practically irresistible.

The three part series is even co-created by Jones, with plenty of female creatives behind the scenes, including director Susan Tully.

Jones and Best play sisters Becca and Rosaline, respectively, who are summoned to the Isle of Man when the boy of their mother washes up on the beach.

Problem is, they have no idea what she was doing there, nor the world they will soon discover she had secretly built for herself away from their father, Richard (George Costigan).

Had she been living a double life? If so, why and for how long?

Complicating matters more is the frosty relationship between the two sisters, who carry a lot of baggage over their upbringing.

“I don’t like picking at scabs,” says Rosaline.

While Becca (Jones) finds a lack of emotional support from her husband (Jim) Andrew Knott, Rosaline is privately awaiting the results of a possible resurgence of breast cancer. Can they overcome their differences to get to the truth and will their mother’s passing bring them closer together?

Stockard Channing plays a chilled American-born local Cathy, who knew their mother and has answers to divulge, while Pete (Hugh Quarshie) is protective of the woman he knew. Local cab driver Jacob (Dean Lennox Kelly) also offers a benevolent ear when he isn’t asking his passengers to say hello to the fairy bridge -these quirky touches are nice and highlight local ambience versus London’s pace. No wonder mum was visiting…

The initial premise may not be too disimilar to dramas such as Ireland’s Smother, but the tone is more gentle, at least when our two leads are not going hammer and tong over deep-seated rivalries. Let’s face it, with such skilled performers you do want some acting chops before the credits role and this is surely more thought-provoking than Midsomer Murders or Father Brown….

Watching Jones and Best on screen together is wholly satisfying, and there are also some inclusive casting touches for actors living with a disability. Maryland is a smart and emotional drama about sisterhood and forgiveness, which never outstays its welcome.

Fingers crossed Suranne Jones creates much more to come…

Maryland screens Thursday January 25 on BritBox.