Review: The House Across the Street's neighbours won't become good friends, but you'll be hooked by Shirley Henderson's 'compelling weirdness'

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Everyone has that odd neighbour, the one who’s always going in and out late at night, or carting strangely-shaped binbags to the wheelie bin the wee small hours.

Nobody, however, has neighbours as odd as Shirley Henderson’s Claudia in The House Across the Street (Channel 5, Mon/Tues, 9pm).

A mousy school nurse, who barely raises her voice above a whisper, Claudia is one of life’s watchers.

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Recovering from the trauma of breast cancer, divorced from a husband who has clearly moved on, and with a son who doesn’t want to live with her, Claudia seems to be searching for some meaning to life, and she finds it when the young daughter of a neighbour goes missing, and is later found dead.

Shirley Henderson in The House Across the StreetShirley Henderson in The House Across the Street
Shirley Henderson in The House Across the Street

Insinuating herself into the initial search for Emily, she gets closer to the family, and some of the other neighbours.

We see much from Claudia’s point of view, as she lurks behind curtains, around corners and behind doors, observing the neighbours on her street.

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The way Henderson plays her though, is profoundly odd – getting hysterically emotional over the a visit from the police, that curious, wispy voice sounding like it’s coming from beyond the grave.

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Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Mike in the BBC sitcom GhostsKiell Smith-Bynoe as Mike in the BBC sitcom Ghosts
Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Mike in the BBC sitcom Ghosts

Mind you, you’d be wary around anyone on Claudia’s street, as they all seem to behave in mysterious ways, with blank-eyed dolls stored in sheds, while Craig Parkinson’s English teacher George is clearly a wrong ‘un.

All the oddness starts to get a bit much, but there is enough about The House Across the Street to keep you watching – mainly Henderson’s compelling weirdness.

Somewhere Boy (Channel 4, Sun-Weds, 10pm) was another new drama about oddballs, but this one was a little more subtle. Danny was kept in seclusion for 18 years by his grief-stricken father and now comes into contact with the outside world for the first time. A real discovery, which deserves a huge viewership.

Ghosts (BBC1, Fri, 8.30pm) continues to be both a fairly traditional sitcom and a ground-breaking, profound delight. Last week’s episode saw a calamity befall the residents of Button House, and how they dealt with the fallout was funny and heart-breaking by turns. An absolute triumph.

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