If anyone has wondered whatever happened to Coro's cheeky cockney Danny Baldwin (Bradley Walsh), who went missing from the soap not long ago, here he is, playing a cheeky cockney in the missing-child drama Torn, which started on TV One last night.
When Torn screened in Britain a year ago, there was some debate over its merits because of the Madeleine McCann case. There, it held a steady audience over three one-hour episodes, but here, TV One has been wise to compress it into two 90-minute shows. Wise, because for the best part of last night's set-up, watching it was like wading through treacle.
Or like running up and down a beach in thick sand, which is what happened in a flashback to the summer of 1996 where young parents Sarah and David (Holly Aird and Adam Kotz) played happy picnics with their three little kids. In a flash, 4-year-old Alice disappeared, and 11 years later, we see that Sarah has never, in psycho-babble parlance, been able to move on.
Sarah and David have all the trappings of a comfortable London middle-class home, but David is a dead-eyed control freak constantly digging at compulsive cleaner Sarah over her instability and drinking problems, and she sneaks up to the attic while the family is out to sniff Alice's old stuff. So far, so cliched.
Despite David's insistence she was not ready, Sarah went off to a job interview, then hung around a mall where - what an uncanny coincidence - she spotted a teenage girl she was convinced was Alice. She just knew.
She lurked around the mall the next day, looking like a mad stalker, then followed the girl to a rough housing estate. The contrast between the two families could not be clearer.
Of course, when she told David she had seen Alice, he thought she was mad, again. You need to get some help, he intoned. Undeterred, Sarah confronted Alice, these days called Lori, with her dad Stephen (Walsh) in the street and was duly arrested.
Luckily for her, she was interviewed by a sympathetic female cop, who defied police codes of conduct and personally intervened. She went back to the housing estate and confronted Lori's mum Joanne (Nicola Walker, who played Ruth in Spooks), demanding a birth certificate. Joanne's house of cards tumbled and she confessed she had snatched Alice from the beach because her boyfriend had left her and she was depressed.
How she was able to maintain this pretence long-term was not examined, which left gaping holes in the plot. Torn started to get interesting when Lori/Alice was brought in to live with her new, old family, an awkward version of Meet the Posh Parents. Her snotty new sister, Jaz, hated this common-as-muck interloper who spoke with her mouth full, smoked at the table and talked in street slang.
Alice has no interest in school and wants to leave, to her new parents' horror. And her return to this unhappy family fold has done nothing to restore the relationship between her rather ghastly new parents. Stephen, the only father she has ever known, seems lovely compared with David who, at the end of last night, was moaning that he didn't understand Sarah any more - to his blonde secretary.
Joanne, the most sympathetic character of the lot, was given a five-year suspended sentence, much to horrid Sarah's horror. It's obvious Alice is a cuckoo in her new nest and the bond between her and Joanne is too strong to end, as the judge has ordered.
In this peculiar concoction of wooden acting, cliched script and leaden pace, which admittedly improved towards the end, I see trouble ahead for both families.