Finding Alice, episode 2 review: with each episode, this stylish thriller only gets more bizarre

Keeley Hawes stars in Finding Alice - ITV
Keeley Hawes stars in Finding Alice - ITV

Some of the behaviour in Finding Alice (ITV) is quite odd, isn’t it? I’m not talking about Keeley Hawes as Alice – at points she seems quite off her rocker, but grief can do funny things to a person even when they’re not dosed up on Diazepam.

No, in this episode I’m talking about Nathan the mortuary technician. I think he’s a mortuary technician – he also runs a bereavement group, although quite possibly those two things can coexist. But are people who work in hospital mortuaries allowed to take a body for burial by strapping it to the roof rack of their car, with members of the bereavement group tagging along for the ride?

Writers Roger Goldby and Simon Nye clearly see their work here as wonderfully unconventional, but what they’ve ended up with is neither one thing nor another, and frequently detached from reality. The first episode veered between gentle comedy drama and thriller. By episode two, the thriller bit was out the window. Remember the mystery of Harry’s finances, and the woman who turned up claiming to be his business partner? The show seems to have forgotten them.

We did start where we left off, with a young man announcing that he was Harry’s secret son. But then he disappeared again. Alice wondered if he was the person glimpsed on CCTV moments before Harry fell to his death, but for reasons best known to herself didn’t mention this to police when they asked.

The main thing keeping me watching is the performances from Joanna Lumley and Nigel Havers as Alice’s parents, and from Gemma Jones and Kenneth Cranham as her in-laws. The key business of this episode was Alice organising Harry’s funeral. She decided to bury him at home rather than the “municipal dumping ground” of a council cemetery. This was actually a good topic for both comedy and drama, and provided plenty of food for thought: is it just the size of our gardens and the prospect of one day moving house that prevents more of us from considering home burials?

More questions, though. Are we supposed to like Keeley Hawes’s portrayal of Alice? Who was the random mourner who volunteered that he’d had “enough weed to kill a cow”? And how was Alice, a woman who spent 24 hours unable to find her own fridge, able to competently operate a digger?