Red Rose thriller of how an app could turn ‘bad’

Thursday: Red Rose - (BBC One, 10.40pm & 11.30pm)
Antony, Wren, Ashley and TazAntony, Wren, Ashley and Taz
Antony, Wren, Ashley and Taz

It’s a striking thought, for those of us of a certain age, that there is a whole generation who have never known life without the internet or smartphones.

An entire demographic for whom there has always been apps, Wi-Fi, streaming, Twitter, instant answers to any questions…

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And so it’s no surprise that today’s youth-oriented fiction takes this into account.

Red Rose is one such show. It is set in a world dripping with today’s technology, where apps are as ubiquitous as the most commonplace of commodities, and the notion of an app turning against you is as terrifying a concept as the air we breathe suddenly wanting you dead.

It comes from BBC Three, the home of such critically acclaimed millennial-targeted shows such as Fleabag and Killing Eve.

Now the channel has found its way back onto broadcast television (after a hiatus of six years, during which it was online-only), its sights are trained on ‘Gen-Z’.

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This promising horror/thriller looks set to be tense and terrifying affair. It also asks us some potentially uncomfortable questions.

Set among a group of teenagers in Bolton, during a long, hot summer after they’ve completed their GCSEs.

The students’ tight-knit friendship group is under threat, however, when it is infiltrated by the Red Rose app, which blooms on their smartphones, threatening them with dangerous consequences if they fail to meet its demands.

Red Rose has killed before. It has been six months since it claimed its last victim, though, and when one of the gang innocently downloads this harmless looking app, you can forgive them for not predicting the chain of events that follow.

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Red Rose seems to be a game of admiration, reassurance and positive affirmation. But something is not right.

Needless to say you’ll want to switch your own handset off while watching for fear of a random notification sending your nerves sky-high.

This is more than just a spooky chiller, though. The series asks if we place too much of ourselves online, and whether our phones will remain content with just the personal data we feed into them, or will they eventually want something … more? These pals don’t know where Red Rose has come from, or what its purpose is.

Does it have its roots in the sinister dark web, or is it more supernatural in origin? The two aren’t mutually exclusive…

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The writers behind the show, twins Michael and Paul Clarkson, told the BBC: “We are thrilled with the talented cast that we’ve assembled in Red Rose. They have so brilliantly captured the spirit of the North with their nuanced, devastating and hilarious performances. We can’t wait for the rest of the world to fall in love with them, just as we have. They’re doing Bolton – and us – proud.”

That cast includes Poldark and The Last Kingdom star Amelia Clarkson, alongside Isis Hainsworth, Natalie Gavin (Line of Duty), Ali Khan, Ellis Howard, Chernobyl’s Adam Nagaitis and Sex Education’s Ashna Rabheru.

Tune in, and prepare to never look at your app store in the same way ever again…