What’s the premise?
A gripping new three-part drama based on the real life of Alison Wilson, set in London between the 1940s and 1960s. Alison thinks she is happily married to novelist and ex-Secret Intelligence Service husband Alexander, whom she met while working at MI6 during the war – until he dies, and a woman turns up on her doorstep claiming to be the real Mrs Wilson.
After two decades of marriage, Alison discovers she’s not the only woman Alec called his wife, and her sons are not Alec’s only children. Now, she is forced to deal not only with her grief, but also with uncovering her late husband’s secrets.
Game of Thrones’ Iain Glen plays the man of mystery and Alison’s husband, Alexander Wilson, while Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, True Blood) – who has been revelling in playing shady women in power this year, what with Killing Eve also under her belt – takes on Coleman, head of MI6 in the 1940s and the person who oversees the work of Alison and Alexander.
But here’s the best bit: Alison is played by Ruth Wilson, her real-life granddaughter. Ruth has had several high-profile roles in Luther and The Affair, but this is by far the role that’s closest to home. Recently, Ruth talked about what it was like to give birth to her own father in the series: “Sometimes I could just inhabit the part and pretend the script wasn’t about my family, try not to see the clapperboard that said Mrs Wilson. But there were definitely moments of going, ‘What am I doing?’ When you’re giving birth to your father, for example. That was absurd. But my job is absurd.”
Nigel Wilson – Alison’s son and Ruth’s father – is played by Otto Farrant (War & Peace, Marcella), with Patrick Kennedy (War Horse, Peep Show) playing Alison’s other son, Dennis. We also briefly meet Alexander’s other wife, Gladys, played by Elizabeth Rider (Informer, Doctors), and briefly glimpse another mystery woman who seemed to know Alec pretty well – Dorothy Wick played by Bodyguard’s Keeley Hawes, who can be seen lingering in the background of several shots. BBC fans will be pleased to see the best of British in this drama.
Is it good?
So far, we’ve only had one episode, with the second airing tonight at 9pm on BBC1. But there’s enough intrigue in there to keep you going – who is Dorothy? Just how many secret lives did Mr Wilson have and who knew about them.
It seems the public are already addicted to the series, too, as viewers lost their minds over last week’s cliff-hanger, and have already began theorising who Dorothy could be. ‘‘Who the hell is Dorothy? @bbcone #MrsWilson – superb and gripping drama! I can’t wait a whole week for the answer,” said one user, while another added: “‘Why did it end there??? Dorothy??? Miss Keeley Hawes I know it’s you!!! But was she another wife??? Did Alec not love her like he presumably loved the others??? So many questions. (sic)”
The first episode brought about so many questions to be answered. As Guardian writer Lucy Mangan put it, it’s not just a whodunnit, but also a “howmanyhedunnitwith” – and hopefully tonight, we’ll find this out.
Mrs Wilson continues tonight on BBC1 at 9pm, watch the first episode on iPlayer here.