The Missing – one of our favourite crime dramas of 2014 – is returning for a second series this month.
It’s late 2014 and a young British woman stumbles through the streets of Eckhausen in Germany and collapses. Her name is Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham) – and she was abducted from the same town 11 years ago.
Her return sends shock waves through the tight-knit local community, as her family are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the abductor gathers pace, Alice also appears to hold vital clues to the whereabouts of a second missing girl, Sophie Giroux, whose disappearance was investigated back in 2003 by French detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo).
It’s this that brings detective Baptiste out of retirement and into the lives of the Webster family. Sophie’s case has been haunting him for years, so he joins the search for Alice’s abductor in the hope it will lead him to the girl he couldn’t find.
“As Oliver’s story was coming to an end [in the first series], we felt we weren’t necessarily done with the character of Julien Baptiste,” says Harry Williams. “It made us sad to say good-bye to him, and there were more stories we had to tell there.”
Jack Williams agrees: “We knew that a man with a career that long would have skeletons in his closet, a lot of things left remaining to fix.”
Julien Baptiste is the only familiar face from series 1, so in series 2 we are introduced to a whole new cast of characters. Staff Sergeant Sam Webster (David Morrissey), his wife Gemma (Keeley Hawes) and their youngest son Matthew (Jake Davies) have coped as well as they can after their daughter disappeared, but that tight family unit is fractured by Alice’s return. Helping to finding Alice’s abductor is Military Police Officer Eve Stone (Laura Fraser). Quick to judge and unprepared to handle the complexity of the case, her professional involvement soon becomes inextricably tangled with her personal life. Her bullish father, Brigadier Adrian Stone (Roger Allam), is in charge of the base, and will do anything to protect his daughter and his reputation. Sharing jurisdiction with the military is local German police officer Jorn Lenhart (Florian Bartholomai), whose soft demeanor and sharp mind makes him a key ally for Julien.
Each of these characters sees their life change dramatically over the course of two years, and audiences see the impact that war and post-traumatic stress had had on our characters – whether they have fought on a battlefield, or have been fighting the emotional trauma of Alice’s abduction and return.
The first series of The Missing, which followed the disappearance of Oliver Hughes, and the desperate search by his father Tony (James Nesbitt) to find him, gripped audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. It was nominated for several BAFTAs and received two Golden Globe nominations. However, when the writers Harry and Jack Williams wanted to take the story forward, they didn’t want to return to Oliver’s tale. Instead, The Missing series 2 explores how a family, and a community, copes with with a missing child’s return. Harry Williams explains, “Rather than losing someone, it’s about finding someone, and whether that is the happy ending that everyone thinks it is.”
Executive Producer Willow Grylls says the heart of the piece is the impact this has on Alice’s family: “The Missing isn’t The Missing without its characteristic twists and turns. And quite quickly we find out that there is another girl that has also been missing, who is still out there.”
Told again over two timelines, with the theme of freedom versus imprisonment, as well as the impact of war running throughout, we start in 2014 with Alice’s return, and then switch to the present day to see how it has impacted the family.
“The intention is to make the audience lean forward a little bit more,” adds Willow. “It allows us the ability to tell stories about characters in a non-linear way and allows us to make choices that we wouldn’t normally be able to.”
Don’t miss the first episode of The Missing series 2 on Wednesday 12th October at 9pm on BBC One.