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New drama Thirteen starts next Thursday, June 23 at 10/9c on BBC AMERICA. Here are 13 very good reasons you shouldn’t miss it.

1.The mystery at the heart of the drama


There are plenty of stories out there about kidnapping, but few that pick up as soon as the kidnapping’s over. Episode one of Thirteen, however, starts with a girl running out of a house, calling the police from the nearest phone box and identifying herself as “Ivy Moxon,” a 26-year-old woman who went missing 13 years ago as a child. But is she really who she says she is? And how did she finally manage to leave?

2. It’s been compared to Broadchurch


Not since DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) met on that cliff in Dorset has a nation been more gripped by a drama. Audiences in the U.K. got behind hashtag #findthegirl in a desperate search for clues, with each successive episode bringing them both one step closer to and ten steps further from the horrifying truth.

3. The protagonist Ivy Moxon

Thirteen isn’t your typical kidnapping drama, and Ivy Moxon isn’t your typical kidnapping victim. She’s a mystery right from the start, causing the people around her to question everything, from her motives, her choices, to what’s really going on in her head. The world may have moved on, but in many ways Ivy is still 13.

4. Jodie Comer’s performance


Even if you’ve already seen Jodie Comer as Rae’s bitchy best friend Chloe in My Mad Fat Diary, or remember her slapping Gemma (Suranne Jones) in Doctor Foster, you won’t be prepared for her haunting portrayal of Ivy Moxon.

“It was quite mentally and physically challenging,” she told Variety recently. “It really pushed me to my limits. You learn a lot about yourself when you do these kinds of roles.”

5. It’s from the team behind Luther

(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Need we say more? Not only that, but before Luther, executive producer Elizabeth Kilgarriff was responsible for period drama Cranford and Tess of the d’Urbervilles, starring Gemma Arterton and a then little-known Eddie Redmayne.

6. Be among the first to spot up-and-coming talent Aneurin Barnard


Can’t place where you’ve seen Aneurin Barnard, who plays Ivy’s childhood boyfriend Tim, before? Well, most recently he starred as the ambitious Boris Drubetskoy in War and Peace, but his résumé also includes succeeding to the English throne as Richard III in The White Queen. He’s currently among the star-studded cast filming Christopher Nolan‘s WWII epic Dunkirk, so expect to see a lot more of him from now on.

7. It was as popular as Sherlock in the U.K.

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Sherlock: The Abominable Bride' (Photo: BBC)
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Sherlock: The Abominable Bride’ (Photo: BBC)

The series was available in the U.K. online only, but in its first month managed to rack up 2.4 million downloads, or 100,000 more than the Christmas Sherlock special did in the month of January (although a large number also tuned in when it aired on New Year’s Day).

8. The up-and-coming writer

You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a auspicious surname than that of Thirteen‘s 30-year-old writer Marnie Dickens. And there’s a lot more to come from this rising star. First there’s Forty Elephants, which has been billed as a sort of “female Peaky Blinders,” about a gang of women operating in 20th-century London, and Kit and Nim, a project about two 18th-century sisters on the make that she’s developing with Rebekah Staton (Doctor Who) and Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster).

9. Natasha Little plays Ivy’s mum


Most recently seen alongside Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in The Night Manager, Natasha Little also featured opposite Mark Rylance as Liz Cromwell in the BBC’s adaptation of Wolf Hall, and in 1998 played meddling minx Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, in an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray‘s novel that also starred Downton Abbey‘s Jeremy Swift, Game of ThronesAnton Lesser, and Life on MarsPhilip Glenister.

In Thirteen she plays Ivy’s uptight mother, Christine, to perfection, expertly capturing the frenetic dogmatism of a woman who’s spent years desperately trying to keep the family together, and preparing for her daughter’s return.

10. Lisa vs. Elliot


A great crime drama just wouldn’t be a great crime drama without two police officers at odds with one another, and Detective Sergeant Lisa Merchant (Valene Kane) and Detective Inspector Elliot Carne (Richard Rankin) are no exception. While Elliot immediately believes Ivy, Lisa is not so sure—and, without wishing to give too much away, what starts as a purely professional antagonism quickly becomes a heady brew…

11. The killer knitwear


In The Killing it was the chunky knit sweater worn by Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol); in The Bridge it was Saga Noren (Sofia Helin)’s leather trousers; and in Sherlock it’s that coat. Great, gritty drama is incomplete without an iconic piece of clothing, and in Thirteen, it’s the doughty cardigan. Ivy has grey ones, pink ones, and oatmeal ones, and is never seen without one.

12. The kidnapper takes a backseat


Thirteen is much, much more than just a crime drama, meaning its focus is less on the kidnapper and more on what happens to his victim. Writer Marnie Dickens explained the reason behind this decision: “Personally as a viewer of other shows I don’t like it when the villain or the killer is foregrounded and gets a big discussion of motives and everything. Because I think that takes away from the victims.”

13. It’s directed, created, and produced by an all-female team

Directors Vanessa Caswill (My Mad Fat Diary) and China Moo-Young (Humans, Call the Midwife) add to an all-female team behind the show, which leads to a uniquely female vision.

“There are so many of those real-life horror stories of people who are taken, and I do think people are traditionally more interested in what happened wherever they were kept,” explained Marnie Dickens in an interview with The Guardian. “But I just thought: what happens to these women—and it does tend to be women—after the press is out of their face? How do they begin to return to real life?”

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Filed Under: Thirteen
By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.