While there’s been a reduced amount of new dramas airing in the last few months thanks to the pandemic throwing the TV industry into turmoil, the arrival of autumn has brought with it the shows bosses have been saving up.
One of the first to debut during this new season of telly is Us, which arrives on BBC One at the weekend.
Described as a “rom-com in reverse”, it is perfect for those looking for something a little less intense than cop shows or physiological thrillers, but still want something that packs an emotional punch.
Here’s everything we can tell you about it...
Us is based on David Nicholls’ novel
To many people, David Nicholls is best known as the author behind, One Day –the smash hit novel that spawned a film of the same name starring Anne Hathaway.
Us served as his follow-up novel, coming five years later in 2014. Like its predecessor, it proved to be hugely popular with readers and critics alike, with one review in the Independent describing it as “a perfect book”.
It was also long-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and David won the Specsavers UK Author of the Year award.
So what is it about?
Well, as David put it in a press introduction for the series, if One Day “was about the beginnings of a relationship – will they, won’t they get together? – Us asked’ ‘what comes next?’”.
It follows the story of the Petersen family, who are rocked when wife Connie tells husband Douglas that she’s not sure she wants to be married to him any more.
As he vows to prove to his wife that he is still the man she fell in love with and to repair his troubled relationship, Douglas insists that they go ahead with a planned family tour of Europe – originally intended as a holiday to mark their son Albie’s last summer before university.
But will the pair be able to reconcile their relationship, or will the family have to come to terms with a life apart?
The action is also intercut with flashbacks of Douglas and Connie’s love story and the early days of their relationship, revealing how they fell in love and how things have changed in the years that followed.
Describing the emotion of the series, David says: “It’s about regret and loss and the spectre of loneliness but I hope we’ve made something funny and uplifting too, something emotional and affecting that will have viewers recognising themselves and those around them, as one of ‘Us’.”
It is set in some incredible locations
Much like how the stunning European locations became an important part of fellow BBC drama Killing Eve, Us will also showcase the beauty of the continent.
The crew filmed last year in London, Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona and Paris and David says the series is supposed to be a “love letter to Europe”.
“I hope we’ve captured that on screen,” he adds.
Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves head up the cast
Tom Hollander (The Night Manager, Baptiste, Gosford Park) plays Douglas, who is a scientist. Tom describes his character as “quite a grumpy dad” to son Albie, who gets on better with his mother, and Douglas lives with the idea that his wife Connie prefers their son to him.
He is devastated when Connie tells him she is falling out of love with him, as he is a man who “doesn’t want to be left”, according to Tom.
Saskia Reeves (Wallander, The Child In Time, Luther) plays Connie, who is preemptively experiencing empty nest syndrome, terrified of the gaping hole that only child Albie is going to leave when he heads to university.
Saskia describes Connie as having “completely settled for a life that she never ultimately wanted” as she gave up her dreams of becoming an artist and “took refuge in Douglas’ absolute undying love for her” – a situation she begins to reassess when their family’s dynamic is about to change.
Tom Taylor – best known for playing Gemma and Simon Foster’s son Tom in Doctor Foster – plays Albie, an artistic, musical, creative and complicated teenager, who is about to set out on the next chapter of his life.
“He doesn’t particularly want to go on holiday with his parents and feels he has been dragged into it – so tries to ditch them,” Tom says. But Albie will go on a journey of his own as he deals with the situation between his mother and father.
Gina Bramhill (Being Human, Black Mirror) and Iain De Caestecker (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lip Service) appear as a young Connie and Douglas in flashback scenes, while Thaddea Graham (Curfew, The Letter For The King) appears as a character called Kat, and Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing, Gentleman Jack) plays Freja.
Why should I watch it?
While the premise of the story might initially seem quite downbeat, Tom Hollander promises it has a “particular humour to it, which is in David’s writing”, with Tom Taylor adding there is plenty of “light hearted comedy” in what he describes as “a really fun drama”.
“It’s not a story without hope, it is a story about hope,” Tom Hollander adds.
He also says the story will likely “speak to parents of a certain age, those who have children who might be about to fly the nest or go to college”.
Gina also says it will likely make you feel “terribly nostalgic for a different time, pre-covid!”
She noted: “All of those wonderful locations and the freedom we had – I hope an audience can be uplifted and transported; not only back to the 90s, but also to the not-so-distant past, to be able to escape and enjoy this story of two people’s love and loss and growth.”
Watch the trailer
When is it on?
Us begins on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One, continuing each week.