For years now, lots of TV thrillers have begun with a terrified woman running through some woods. But not The Couple Next Door. Instead, the first episode opened with the sight of an isolated cabin and the sound of a gunshot – and only then did a terrified woman run through some woods.
Why the woman was terrified we haven’t yet learned, but we do know who she is – because in the next scene, her pre-terrified self and her partner were moving into their new house in a quiet, well-heeled Leeds cul-de-sac where every adult not mowing a lawn was washing a car. ‘Hello, suburbia,’ said her partner, perhaps unnecessarily.
Already, then, it was pretty clear that this six-part drama would be heroically unafraid of cliché. Some viewers might even have found themselves wondering when the couple – by now named as Evie and Pete – would meet their first suburban swingers.
To which the answer was approximately two minutes. On arrival, they struck up an instant friendship with neighbours Becka and Danny: she, a sexy yoga instructor; he, a sexy policeman. Granted, their hobby wasn’t immediately revealed. But it wasn’t long before Pete saw Becka opening her front door in stockings and suspenders to welcome an obviously ‘like-minded couple’. Shortly afterwards, he and Evie were the only guests at their barbecue, where Becka wore the kind of dress more usually associated with Liz Hurley at a 1990s film première.
Yet, while The Couple Next Door mightn’t be distinguished by the originality of its ideas, it does pile up the unoriginal ones at an impressive rate. Across the street lives Alan, a middle-aged man who has a telescope and isn’t afraid to use it, taking full advantage of Becka’s strange reluctance ever to close her curtains.