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TV Review: Clique (Series 1, Episode 1)

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The latest in a wave of bold teen dramas, Clique is an intriguing new addition to BBC Three's online output.

Created by Skins' Jess Brittain, the series follows two freshers as they become embroiled in an alluring but mysterious all-female clique in Edinburgh.  

First years and best friends Holly and Georgia have known each other since they were young, sharing a unique bond despite their distinct differences in personality. Holly is quiet, clever and thoughtful, while Georgia is a live-wire extrovert, confident and loud.

Both of them enter the much-talked about module on Macro Economics with differing attitudes, unaware of how deeply the module's exclusive internships, led by lecturer Jude McDermid, will infiltrate and affect their lives. 

The first episode gives a good exposition of the world that we enter along with Holly and Georgia, drawing us in with its lavish cinematography and style. On the surface, the clique of girls at the centre of McDermid's intern programme look sensationally desirable. Gorgeous, eloquent and effortlessly cool, it's easy to see how Holly and Georgia can become so intrigued by them. 

But as the episode goes on, things begin to take a much darker turn, bringing to light a series of mysterious events that offer a small peek into the true nature of this programme and how it affects the girls at the centre of it.

By the end of the first episode, plenty of things happen within the plot - some shocking, some exciting, others teasingly ambiguous - but we are none the wiser as to the truth. In this respect, Clique's opening episode is great in ratcheting up tension and leading us to question what will happen next.

The cast also give terrific performances that aid even further in intriguing viewers, with Lousie Brealey's turn as the stern, secretive lecturer Jude coming across as particularly riveting. Moving far away from Brealey's performance as the meek and kindly Molly Hooper in Sherlock, Jude is a magnetic presence, as fierce as she is compelling.

Her opening lecture is a particularly enjoyable and thought-provoking scene, as she pointedly blames her female students for their part in not opening up the gender gap. "Feminism in this country has been infected with misinformation and an obsession with being offended," she states.

Brealey's strong performance as this steely-eyed, determined woman, whose motives are more or less unknown to us at this point, is possibly the best element of the series so far. The show's leading actresses, Syvonne Karlsen and Aisling Francoisi, are also very compelling in this first episode, offering likeable, believeable performances. 

Impeccably shot and intriguingly written, Clique certainly seems to show promise. Only future episodes will tell how the series' strong opening questions will be answered.

Clique is available to watch on BBC iPlayer, with new episodes added every Sunday.

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