Why we haven’t met the kidnapper in new BBC3 drama Thirteen

Writer Marnie Dickens tells Ben Dowell why viewers of the Jodie Comer and Aneurin Barnard thriller haven’t met Ivy Moxham’s abductor…yet


BBC3 drama Thirteen is beguiling viewers with its extraordinary story of Ivy Moxham (Jodie Comer), the young woman who experiencing life in the real world after 13 years of captivity.


The five-part series, written by Marnie Dickens and co-starring Anuerin Barnard as Ivy’s former childhood sweetheart Tim, is an astute and gripping examination of this extraordinary set of events.

How does she settle back to a relationship with Tim (who is now married to someone else)? When will her parents finally tell them they have split up? What was she actually doing for al those years? And how did she escape?

What the drama doesn’t do is focus a great deal on Ivy’s kidnapper – the mysterious Mark White (Peter McDonald) who is now on the run. And there is a very good reason for this.


Asked if she found the idea of focusing on the perpetrator “abhorrent”, writer Marnie Dickens (above) told RadioTimes.com: “I do to an extent. Personally as a viewer of other shows I don’t like it when the villain or the killer is foregrounded and gets a big discussion of motives and everything. Because I think that takes away from the victims.

“It happens a lot in drama because it is quite interesting watching essentially a psychopath. But drifting off and being with the kidnapper makes it a different show I think.”

Asked if she objected to dramas like Gillian Anderson drama The Fall which was criticised for focusing so intensely on the activities of the rapist murderer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), she said, “I loved The Fall, actually. I would watch Gillian Anderson stamping her fan mail. I thought it was brilliantly written and brilliantly shot. It does take that dual perspective.

“It feels like it’s a very different show. I didn’t mind the dual perspective in The Fall. You were with him as a family man so it was quite grounded.

“With Thirteen, traditionally people are more interested in what happens to people during captivity. But I am more interested in what happens afterwards. It strikes me as such a fascinating thing that you are out of the world and suddenly thrust back into it.”

It certainly is.



This article was originally published in 2016