TV Highlight AND TRAILER: Haunting drama Requiem coming to BBC One

Lydia Smith in Requiem.
Lydia Smith in Requiem.
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Requiem, Friday, 9pm, BBC One

What if you want to find out who you really are - but you don’t like the answer?

In 1994 a toddler disappears from a small Welsh town, never to be seen again. Twenty-three years later, talented young cellist Matilda, played by Lydia Wilson (Star Trek Beyond, About Time), has her life turned upside down by her mother’s inexplicable suicide.

In the wake of the tragedy Matilda begins to question everything she thought she knew about herself, embarking on a quest that leads her to that Welsh village - a place haunted by its own past, where the secrets she uncovers threaten to unravel her very identity.

A taut psychological thriller with subtle supernatural undertones, Requiem avoids giving easy answers, playing instead on uncertainty and ambiguity while interrogating our contemporary obsession with personal identity.

Lydia Wilson said: “ I hope audiences will fall in love with this world and want to keep coming back to it. I hope they will feel like we did when we made it - intrigued by this strange thing that doesn’t look like anything else.

Lydia Smith in Requiem.

Lydia Smith in Requiem.

“In this day and age, drama can be homogenous and formulaic. I love to watch formulaic dramas sometimes. At the same time, I think it’s great to do something like this, which is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It’s fantastic to make something that is so bold.”

Here's a short introduction by creator and writer Kris Mrksa

"For me, stories often coalesce when several apparently unrelated ideas collide, and I suddenly notice that they might actually be part of the very same story. Requiem grew out of just such a collision.

"The first element was my lifelong passion for scary movies. I don’t mean the kind of in-your-face horror film that seems to be so ubiquitous these days. I’m talking about subtle-scary, the kind that trades on mood, and a sense of disquiet, slowly building to something that is ultimately far more disturbing and unsettling. There are a string of movies that do this beautifully but Don’t Look Now and Rosemary’s Baby sit on top of my hit list.

"I found myself wondering whether that sensibility, with its sophistication, restraint, ambiguity, and psychological complexity might be transplanted into longer form television drama. Was there a way of maintaining it over six hours?

"The second key ingredient was a fascination with the nature of personal identity. There seems to be a popular obsession with identity right now, with the idea that you might be able to find out who you “really” are, whether that’s through DNA testing, studying your family tree, or doing some sort of personal actualisation course. I’m doubtful about the value of this stuff, but I found myself pondering the compulsion that underlies these activities.

"Most particularly, I found myself wondering about how a person might feel if they did get a definitive answer to the question “who am I, really?”, but it was not at all what they expected? If it turned everything they thought they knew about themselves on its head?

"We’ve all seen stories that are kicked-off by the hero losing a loved one, but what if this story began with the hero losing herself?

"The final element was not so much a story idea, as a mythological underpinning. I’d been reading about an alchemist and mystic, and I discovered that they had some very intriguing beliefs, based on a world view that was both idiosyncratic, yet surprisingly coherent. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, these philosophies started cropping up, in books and newspaper articles, on TV and in museum exhibits. And it just seemed too good to ignore.

"You can see what I meant when I said that the three elements were apparently unconnected. It’s when I suddenly saw how they might all fit together, in a way that was surprising, yet also satisfyingly neat, that I knew I had a TV series. And so Requiem was born."