The Child in Time

Child in Time
Ian McEwan’s tale of grief, loss and acceptance

The Child in Time (Sunday, BBC1, 9pm) marks a pleasing break with the past for Benedict Cumberbatch. Having shot to fame portraying Sherlock Holmes as a dazzling geniusBen-Felsenburg-colour-176 burdened with emotional baggage, movie stardom followed. First came his portrayal of Julian Assange as a dazzling genius burdened with emotional baggage in The Fifth Estate. Then in The Imitation Game he was Alan Turing, a dazzling genius burdened with emotional baggage.

When the blockbuster producers of Hollywood came calling, it was to play Doctor Strange as a dazzling genius burdened with emotional baggage. Now Cumberbatch has set up his own production company, and their first feature is an adaptation of Ian McEwan's fine 1987 novel, and a liberating opportunity for the actor to hang up the deerstalker and go entirely dazzle-free. Children's author Stephen Lewis (Cumberbatch) is tortured by the disappearance of his four-year-old daughter Kate, and years on he continues to search for her. His marriage to Julie (Kelly Macdonald) has been torn asunder by the loss of their child, but he cannot give up hope.

The book is a complex, layered story encompassing Stephen's involvement with a government committee on childhood and the bizarre breakdown of his high- powered politician pal Charles. The transition to screen proves awkward and not entirely successful, for all Cumberbatch's sensitive emoting, but it's a worthy attempt.


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