Amber – a missing girl, a broken family and a gripping four-part mystery. Available now on DVD
Amber Bailey is a 14-year-old girl, daughter to divorced parents Sarah and Ben, who after failing to arrive at a friend’s house does not return home. The series sees Eva Birthistle and David Murray star as the estranged couple who must embark upon a two-year investigation into the disappearance of their daughter.
As the search for Amber, played by Lauryn Canny, becomes more and more worrying, shocking clues are discovered which raise even more questions over what happened to this little girl. It is incredibly intriguing television, gripping from the very beginning, with twists and turns along the way.
Amber’s father drops her outside a friend’s house in the first episode, confident that, as he sees her walking towards the front door, she will enter the house. However, in those vital few seconds after he drives around the corner and Amber goes out of view view, circumstances take a drastically sinister turn.
Set against a backdrop of the quiet Irish suburbs, Amber had been the apple of her parents’ eye. Dad Ben is a rather unpredictable and unreliable character, but he clearly dotes on his children. Sarah is trying to make the new order of life seem normal for her children, even relinquishing control and letting her daughter decorate her room in the new home without Dad. This divided family are clearly trying to get used to a new family dynamic, so could this have any connection to Amber’s disappearance? While Amber is at home with her mother and brother it is a happy household, but when she is dropped at a friend’s house by her dad it triggers a series of events none of them could have imagined.
The story goes from day one to day 171 of the search in a blink of an eye, and through all the parental arguments and the cold dreariness of Dublin’s background, the hope of Amber’s safe return fades. However, from the outset there are so many intricacies to the plot that it’s almost impossible to viewers to guess at what the outcome will be.
This series was written and created by Rob Crawley and Paul Duane. Duane explains that Amber draws comparisons to Nordic Noir style shows such as The Killing. The idea of Amber was brought to life after one of the production team lost someone close to them. They hoped to convey the gulf left when someone disappears, how friends and family try to cope with the situation and how everyone’s reaction to the tragedy is unique.
The subject matter for Amber is particularly emotive as the cases of Milly Dowler and Madeleine McCann are still incredible raw in the public consciousness. Duane makes it clear that they were not directly referencing real cases, but they were acutely aware of the continuing ordeals of the families.
Amber is only a four part series, but in such a small number of episodes it still manages to explore the devastating course of events a family endures while going through such an experience, while still including unique twists and turns different from any similar series that has come before. This programme fits perfectly into the plethora of Scandinavian drama that is currently being obsessed over by audiences across the globe, but with the added allure of being in English.