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Insomnia hits Paramount+. Don’t sleep on it!

Insomnia hits Paramount+. Don’t sleep on it!

From the creators of The Crown and Behind Her Eyes comes this shocking and suspenseful thriller starring BAFTA award winner Vicky McClure

By Simon Ward, Content Director

Since her 2006 breakout role as Lol Jenkins in Shane Meadows’ The Is England, Vicky McClure’s career has been impeccable. From Line Of Duty and Broadchurch to I Am Nicola and Trigger Point, plus her return to the role of Lol in the TV sequel that won her a BAFTA for Best Actress, her work has been varied but the quality has remained high.


So, her starring role in the mysterious new British thriller Insomnia, coming to Paramount+ on Thursday 23 May, is worthy of your attention. She plays Emma, who fears she might be losing her mind when her hard-won dream life starts to turn into a nightmare.

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Emma stops sleeping – in a worrying echo of her mother, who stopped sleeping right before she suffered a violent psychotic breakdown on the night of her own 40th. To make matters worse, Emma’s mother had always told her the same would happen to her – that she had “bad blood”. And now Emma is terrified it’s true.


As events worsen, Emma’s world unravels until she realises that only by confronting her painful past can she find the answers to her present. Because if she can’t, the consequences may be tragic.


With the first two episodes arriving on Thursday 23 May and new episodes dropping weekly, here’s why you should lock in to the shocking finale…


It’s worth repeating: it stars Vicky McClure

Such is Vicky McClure’s body of work, it’s easy to take for granted that everything she touches turns gold. But there are few actors of her calibre who choose their next projects as carefully as she does.


As Emma, she is perfectly cast in a role that plays to her strengths in portraying complex leads. As Emma’s world collapses, we’re pulled into her unravelling state of mind. Yet we never lose sight of the person at the centre of the madness, the woman trying to escape her past and hold on to her reality, and that is a testament to McClure’s nuanced performance.


Once you start, you really can’t stop watching

This series adapts Sarah Pinborough’s novel of the same name. She’s also the author of the acclaimed Behind Her Eyes. If you’ve read either book or seen the series based on Behind Her Eyes, you know that you’re guaranteed a propulsive, mysterious and frankly addictive series that will have you counting down the days until the next episode.


What this adaptation does so well is make you question if what you’re seeing is real, and the show runs with that as a concept. McClure’s Emma might be the lead character and therefore our window into her world, but can we trust her and, by extension, the story that we see? That feeling is heightened with a Nordic-noir-meets-horror-movie look to the show that will leave your distrust running rampant.


You’ll doubt your senses; you’ll question everything. In that way, you’ll become a little bit like Emma, which is a neat trick the show pulls off with style.


McClure gives us a complex lead character with many layers

Vicky McClure has played complex characters before. But in Insomnia, she tackles a very different kind of lead role, one whose present and past are keeping her from an idyllic future.


For Emma, we see how her family, intergenerational trauma and her childhood have had an impact on the person she is today. As the series continues, we see through her eyes (and McClure’s portrayal) how the past and present for Emma are forever intertwined – and only when she begins to face the past can she truly heal.


We also see that play out in her relationships with her mother and sister, as well as the decisions she makes – like the perennial fear that so many women have: they don’t want to become like their mothers. Except, for Emma, that brings an added layer of worry.


It plays with genres really well

This psychological thriller with a supernatural twist is a hard show to categorise – and that only adds to the feeling of suspense. Because, on the face of it, the series is a drama grounded in reality. It’s a complicated family drama whose main character suffers from debilitating insomnia. And yet, it has elements of mystery, thriller and horror at work simultaneously.


That turns out to be the ace up Insomnnia’s sleeve. The lack of a clear-cut genre, coupled with how jumps between timelines, only adds to a sense of unease and will keep you guessing. Is there such a thing as “bad blood”? Is that an excuse for the events that play out? Is there a supernatural force at play? Is paranoia in the driving seat? Who’s hiding what? What is the truth?


The show might know where it’s going, but you definitely don’t.


No spoilers, but the ending lands perfectly

We know the pain of starting a TV show that promises so much, and builds up so many dangling threads and delicious cliffhangers, only to trip at the final hurdle.


Sarah Pinborough has more than 20 novels to her name, including her bestseller Behind Her Eyes which – again, no spoilers – had a shocking finale, to say the least. What we’re saying is, you won’t get to the end of episode 6 of Insomnia only to throw your hands up shouting, “Wait! Is that it?” As with Behind Her Eyes, Sarah’s got you.


If you’ve read the book Insomnia is based on, keep quiet. For the rest of us, let Emma’s unravelling pull you in, safe in the knowledge that it sticks the landing. Anchored on a terrific performance from Vicky McClure, with more twists and turns than an F1 track, Insomnia is your next addictive adaption.


How to watch Insomnia on Virgin TV

Insomnia is coming to Paramount+ on Thursday 23 May, with episodes 1 and 2 landing on the same day. The six-episode series will then drop a new episode weekly.


How to get Paramount+ on Virgin TV

Virgin Media customers with Virgin TV 360 or Stream from Virgin Media can get Paramount+ direct on your telly once you’ve got a subscription to the service. Just sign up to Paramount+ via the website, then log in on the box.


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