This new BBC drama about maternity leave will give you chills

Ever had the sneaking suspicion your maternity cover is actually a bit of a psycho?

The Replacement
(Image credit: BBC)

Ever had the sneaking suspicion your maternity cover is actually a bit of a psycho?

Ellen is a Glasgow-based architect at the top of her game. She's just won her dream project, a brand new public library, and been offered a promotion.

Then she falls pregnant.

Enter her maternity cover Paula. Paula seems nice at first. Then Paula seems overbearing. Then Paula seems downright creepy.

The Replacement is a brand new BBC show that spins the often-tough and stressful transition from work to maternity leave into a tense thriller that leaves you wondering whose side you should actually be on. Is Paula (played by the always-brilliant Vicky McClure) really as malevolent as Ellen (Morven Christie) believes, or is Ellen being seriously paranoid?

Broken up into a suspenseful three-parter, The Replacement is written and directed by Joe Ahearne (The Secret of Crickley Hall, Da Vinci's Demons) and also stars Dougray Scott and Neve McIntosh as David and Kay (the husband and wife team who run Ellen's practice) as well as Richard Rankin as Ellen's increasingly concerned psychiatrist partner Ian, who begins to suspect her rants about Paula are signs she's mentally unwell.

Though most women don't end up worrying their maternity cover is intent on destroying them, the show does tap into an unsettling period in a working woman's life, including the frustration of downing tools at what is often the most productive time in her career. 'I didn't worry my maternity cover was a psycho' says a friend who recently took a year away from work after having her son, 'but it's shameful to admit that while I was out of the office all I ever wanted to hear from my colleagues was how badly my cover was doing...'

In The Replacement we watch as Ellen become increasingly suspicious and frustrated, while her colleagues seem to wonder if hormones and exhaustion are making her lose the plot (if you've ever been eight months pregnant and told by your colleagues to 'just have a rest' you might find this bit particularly galling to watch.)

The show promises to explore 'the darker side of working women, motherhood and the issues that arise from making "the right choice".' With a brilliant cast and seriously interesting premise, The Replacement feels designed to throw up some pretty robust Twitter debate.

If you missed the first episode, which aired on Tuesday 28th February (9pm, BBC One), we definitely recommend you catch up, even if for some of you it might feel a little too close to home.

Lucy Pavia