Former Doctor Who star Jenna Coleman is back at the BBC for a compelling new drama based on Helen FitzGerald’s novel The Cry.
Her character faces an unthinkable tragedy in the drama, which viewers will find tough but gripping viewing.
Read on for all you need to know about new series The Cry.
Watch the trailer
When is The Cry on TV?
The Cry replaces Bodyguard on Sunday nights on BBC One.
Jenna Coleman's series premiered on Sunday, September 30th at 9pm.
The four-part drama began filming in February 2018.
Who is starring in the series?
The Cry is a tense drama that relies heavily on its two main characters, husband and wife Alistair and Joanna.
Jenna Coleman plays Joanna, a new mother thrown into every parent’s worst nightmare when her baby goes missing. Jenna is known for playing time-travelling companion Clara Oswald in Doctor Who, and for starring in Victoria, the hit ITV series about Queen Victoria.
She said: “I first read Jacquelin Perske's script on a plane. It felt like walking a tightrope, racing page to page, unsettling, unknowable, uncomfortable, and thrilling.”
Alistair, Joanna’s husband and the baby’s father, is played by Ewen Leslie, who has featured in Safe Harbour and Top of the Lake.
Stella Gonet (The Crown) plays Alistair’s mother Elizabeth, Asher Keddie (X Men: Origins, Offspring) is his ex-wife Alexandra, and Markella Kavenagh (Romper Stomper) plays Alexandra and Alistair’s daughter Chloe.
Sophie Kennedy Clark (Philomena, The Danish Girl) Alex Dimitriades (Seven Types of Ambiguity), and Shareena Clanton (Wentworth) also appear in the series.
The cast - In their own words
How did you first get involved with The Cry?
It’s quite ironic because I was actually on a plane when I was first sent the script [which is where we find Joanna on Episode One, on a plane journey from Glasgow to Melbourne]. I was sent the first episode and it really reeled me in - it kept me guessing and kept me on my toes. I thought it was really captivating and clever. I was on a long haul flight on the way back from LA. It was as I was landing and the tension of the episode was building and building - it’s a good way to read a script!
What can you tell us about your character?
I play a character called Joanna, who, as we meet her, is a new mum and has a baby of about three months. We find her struggling with the change. Struggling, I suppose, with new motherhood. She feels exhausted. She feels like she’s lost her identity and she’s struggling to connect with Noah. That’s where we begin. Then they get on a plane to Australia and Joanna goes through some extreme changes in her life. We explore her psychological breakdown through these unique set of circumstances, which gets teased throughout the series.
What did you enjoy about playing Joanna and what did you find challenging?
The psychological thriller aspect of how much you give to the audience has been really challenging - probably more than any other role before. You are constantly living within a double-bluff. You’re playing the truth of the scene but also thinking about how much you want to give to the audience each moment to keep the mystery and to keep drawing on the strings. You’re living constantly within a vortex, that’s what we kept calling it on set. It’s a double bubble.
What do you think audiences will take away from this series?
I hope the audiences take away what I took from it when I first read it. It’s a show that keeps turning on its head. It keeps the mystery taut. I kept talking about a tightrope; you’ve got to keep the tightrope taut. It keeps you guessing a lot. I hope they enjoy the turns of the story.
How did you become involved in The Cry, what attracted you to it?
I loved the script and then read the novel by Helen FitzGerald and I found it a compelling read - it was a page turner, filled with complicated characters in a complicated moral dilemma. I thought it would make a really great drama. And I worked with director Glendyn Ivin a year ago on a TV show called Safe Harbour - so the producers spoke to Glendyn about me playing Alistair in this.
Can you tell us a bit more about Alistair, your character?
Alistair works as an advisor for a political party in Scotland. He’s someone who likes to be in control. He is very good at making quick decisions under very high pressure situations, someone who is very used to working behind the scenes and pulling the strings, but through the course of the story, he finds himself on the other side of that. Suddenly he is very much under the glare of the press and public opinion… and he starts to unravel.
What have you enjoyed about playing him?
He is a tricky character. I imagine he will be a tricky character for the audience. He’s a tricky character to play because he’s not very sympathetic. Is he controlling, manipulative and narcissistic? Absolutely. But if he were just those things, it would actually make him easier to play. If I just have to show up and play this guy who has these qualities and not imbue him with any emotions then that would be easy - but if you want to give him grief and pathos, that is tricky. Hopefully he is a complicated character for the audience.
What did you find challenging?
Playing someone like this, you have to empathise with him. You have to find a way of getting inside his head and to see something completely from his point of view. He’s trying to do his best to make the right decision every step of the way - but they’re not always the right decisions. I think he is coming from a good place ultimately, trying to keep his h
How did you come to play Alexandra?
I read the book and was overwhelmed by the story. I get a lump in my throat even as I remember it. It brought up a lot of stuff up for me as a mother about what motherhood means. I was so involved in it and it was so compelling. Glendyn asked me to do it and I have wanted to work with him since I first worked with him eight years ago. This felt like absolutely the right material for us to work together on.
Can you describe Alexandra and her journey in The Cry?
The beauty of a project like this and the way it’s been written is that the characters’ journeys are so complex, particularly Alexandra, Alistair and Joanna. There’s nothing black and white about their history or the present time. I don’t know if I can sum her up as a character other than to say that she tries really hard to be the best that she can be but she’s also experiencing an enormous amount of anxiety with the return of Alistair.
He’s a man that has betrayed her on a level that would be difficult for anyone to deal with, no matter how strong you are as a person. She’s definitely got inner strength; there’s no doubt she’s a strong woman. That’s what attracted me, not only to Helen’s book, but also Jacquelin [Perske]’s script. There’s a great journey for Alexandra as a woman and as a mother - she gets to speak about that finally, having been silenced for years.
Tell us about your character Elizabeth?
I play Elizabeth, the mother of Alistair. My character lives in Melbourne. I’m there waiting for Alistair and Joanna to come and spend some time with us in Australia. Alistair was never an easy child and so she bonds with Joanna over their difficulties with him. She also bonds with Joanna over post-natal depression. Elizabeth lacked a mother instinct towards him - which she’s always felt very guilty about - and she opens up to Joanna about that. The other mother is Alexandra, played by Asher Keddie, and for the three women, Alistair is the connection. So I think there’s a bond that we all feel with each other because of that. I’m not saying that we all gang up against him but there’s a kind of sisterhood of understanding.
How has it been working with the rest of the cast?
It’s been terrific! Absolutely terrific. Elizabeth and Joanna, that’s been a lovely journey to go on. Elizabeth immediately bonds with Joanna and that was lovely to play. Ewen was amazing, he’s divine, a fantastic actor. Markella is a glorious, wonderful young talent. Asher Keddie, my god - a goddess. I didn’t realise quite how amazingly famous she was and then you go to Australia and she’s on the front cover of all these magazines - we don’t have her shows over here.
Sophie Kennedy Clark
Tell us about your character Kirsty, Joanna’s best friend?
Kirsty’s living her life… she’s got this cool, hipster salon, whereas Joanna’s life is now very much baby-focused and dealing with the husband and the ex-wife… They are two friends who are slowly separating because they are living out two different parts of their life. I think it’s something that can happen when friends become mothers… Their friendship is beautifully written. It’s pretty special.
Have you enjoyed the plot?
Oh my goodness. When I was reading the script, the twists made me shut my laptop and be like “NO!”… and then I had to reopen it and then something else would happen and I’d shut it again! Even reading it was great. I can only imagine how visually it’s going to affect audiences. I’m really excited.
What is The Cry about?
Adapted from Helen FitzGerald’s book, the drama chronicles the heartbreaking disappearance of a newborn baby.
Joanna and Alistair travel with their baby from Scotland to Australia to visit Alistair’s mother, Elizabeth.
But the trip isn’t only to introduce Elizabeth to her new grandchild – Alistair also plans to fight his ex-wife Alexandra for custody of their daughter, Chloe.
However, the family are thrown into a living nightmare when their new baby goes missing from the small coastal town they are staying in, which changes their lives and their marriage forever.
The drama follows Joanna’s disintegrating psychology and looks at the myths and truths of motherhood.
Where was it filmed?
Following the locations of the story, The Cry is being filmed on opposite sides of the world.
The scenes shot in Australia visited Melbourne and the surrounding areas, whilst the Scottish leg of the drama is set in the West End of Glasgow.
Executive producer Claire Mundell said: “We could not be more thrilled to be shooting the show in the incredible Australian light of Melbourne, and contrasting that with the beautiful West End of Glasgow.”
Speaking about the two locations, Coleman said: "Melbourne was a lot more laid back. The sun is shining… But in Glasgow when you arrive, it’s the humour… I feel very at home in Glasgow. I don’t know if it’s because my grandad’s Scottish and there’s something quite homely there for me.
"The big differences are the weather and landscape! Our director was praying for the grey drizzle, the dreich Scottish weather!"
Episode 1 preview
Joanna (Jenna Coleman) and Alistair (Ewen Leslie) are a young couple forced to face unthinkable circumstances under the white light of public scrutiny, changing their lives and their relationship forever.
Joanna and Alistair travel from Scotland to Australia with their baby son Noah. They’re going to Melbourne to see Alistair’s mother Elizabeth and to fight for custody of Alistair’s 14 year-old daughter Chloe, from his previous marriage to Alexandra.
Joanna is struggling with life as a new mum and the flight to Melbourne is a huge additional strain on her. Noah cries the whole way, to the very apparent dismay of their fellow travellers.
Exhausted and emotional from the journey the couple finally arrive in Australia, where unforeseen events change their lives forever.
Episode 2 preview
As the police investigation ramps up, the world’s media descends on the small town of Wilde Bay to report on the terrible and mysterious events of the previous night.
Joanna (Jenna Coleman) and Alistair (Ewen Leslie) face scrutiny on social media; a horrified Joanna creates a fake online identity and begins to take part in the online discussions.
Cracks appear in Alistair and Joanna’s relationship as they both try to cope in different ways with the unrelenting presence of the media and the police, as well as their personal and private emotions.
Joanna becomes increasingly haunted and obsessed by the online commentators, who seem determined to solve the mystery.
The Cry airs Sundays at 9pm on BBC One.
Never miss an episode with BT TV – look out for the series on the BBC iPlayer app.