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No Return: A family holiday takes a chilling turn in ITV drama starring Sheridan Smith
From happy holidays to a sun-drenched nightmare – it’s anything but sun, sea and sangria in this edge-of-your-seat four-part drama from the writer of Brassic and The Stranger.
A show about a family holidaying in Turkey could be a real winter-warmer – and might even inspire you to book a well-earned summer getaway in 2022.
But ITV’s new four-part series, No Return, doesn’t dwell on the fun times for long before unpacking a harrowing holiday storyline that will live long in the memory.
Here's everything you need to know about the new drama, which starts on ITV and BritBox on Monday, 7 February.
7 Questions with Sheridan Smith
We spoke to Sheridan Smith about her latest role as Kathy Powell in the ITV drama No Return, where she told us about filming on location, crying through the read-through and playing a scenario that's every mum's worst nightmare.
What is No Return?
No Return is a thrilling new four-part series from ITV.
The show is written by Royal Television Society award-winning screenwriter, Danny Brocklehurst – the man behind TV shows including Brassic and Harlan Coben's The Stranger.
Speaking about his idea for No Return, Brocklehurst said: “It all started in a very casual way. I was on a walk and chatting away to a friend and they told me about something that had happened to a member of their extended family abroad. It set me off thinking about families.
"I’m a parent of two boys and they’re getting to a certain age now where my eldest is nearly 15. I still feel like I’m the protector, but you have to let them go a little bit as well. The more I thought about it the more I thought there was a really interesting story here about a crime that happens abroad.
"We might be able to do something really powerful about how a family, a mother in particular, would respond if their son was accused of something abroad and they couldn’t get them out of the foreign system that they don’t understand.”
And it's a premise which he hopes will really resonate with audiences, as he explains: “I do the school run every morning with my youngest and I wanted to write about those families – ordinary people who take their kids to school, want the best for their kids and save up and take them on holiday maybe once a year.
"In this case, they go on holiday with their extended family. I purposedly designed the family to be like people I know and people I recognise. It makes the story very relatable.”
Is there a trailer?
Watch the drama of No Return begin to unfold in this ITV trailer for the show.
What’s the plot?
Like many of us, Kathy (Sheridan Smith) and Martin (Michael Jibson) are looking forward to a fun and relaxing family holiday with their two children, Noah (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) and Jessica (Lily Sutcliffe). They’re off to Turkey to enjoy the sun, sea and sand, and spend some much-needed family time together.
But their dream holiday soon plunges into a nightmare, as Noah accepts a seemingly innocent invitation to a beach party.
Things unfold faster than a sun-lounger as the family is left desperately fighting for their son’s freedom against the powers of the law, an alien legal system, looming media coverage and resistance from fellow holidaymakers unwilling to lend a helping hand. Noah should be at home sitting his latest exams. Instead, he’s facing an entirely different kind of test.
No Return’s Executive Producer, Nicola Shinder, said: “I am delighted to be working with Danny again on these fantastic scripts. He makes the audience ask ‘what if that were my holiday, my child?’ in a thrilling way. And we are so lucky to have Sheridan and the rest of this very talented cast to bring this story to life.”
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Who’s in the cast of No Return?
Mum and dad, Kathy and Martin, are played by Sheridan Smith and Michael Jibson.
BAFTA Award-winning Sheridan Smith is best known for her roles in The Royle Family, Gavin and Stacey, Benidorm, Cilla, and Funny Girl, and has appeared in a number of West End musicals including Legally Blonde and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Speaking about Sheridan Smith doing her read through for the role of Kathy Powell in No Return, Executive Produce Nicola Shindler said: "In readthroughs often actors give their least performance because they don’t want to give away too much.
"Sheridan literally blew us away. I’ve never been in a read through like that before where someone gave so much and the emotion was just there. It helps us so much, because then we realise which scenes are important, which scenes we need to make sure we have enough time to shoot, which scenes perhaps we don’t need because she’s given so much in the scenes before.
"I remember both of us sitting there afterwards (with Co-Creator Danny Brocklehurst) saying that’s extraordinary. It’s amazing to know how you’re going to deliver emotionally so early, it just makes the process so much easier for the whole crew."
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Like Smith, Michael Jibson, above, is an Olivier Award winner having picked up a statuette for his role as King George III in Hamilton. He has starred in TV dramas Honour and Quiz, as well as playing roles in films such as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, 1917, and Les Misérables.
Their son, 16-year-old Noah, is played by Louis Ashbourne Serkis, who won the Outstanding Performance award at the sixth National Film Awards UK in 2021 for his role in The Kid Who Would Be King.
Executive Producer Nicola Shindler said of casting Louis, "Louis just blew us away. He was just extraordinary from that first reading. He got the emotion, he felt very convincing. He just feels very real."
Younger daughter Jessica is played by newcomer Lily Sutcliffe.
Also joining Kathy, Martin and the Powell family on holiday are Kathy's sister Megan and her husband Steve, played by Sian Brooke (Sherlock, Doctor Foster) and David Mumeni (Dead Pixels, Johnny English Strikes Again).
Sheridan Smith previously starred alongside Sian Brooke in the BAFTA-nominated TV series The Moorside.
Philip Arditti (Inferno) plays Rico, providing the Powell's legal representation when their son Noah is arrested in Turkey. The Turkish lawyer has to try his hardest to free Noah, while explaining the realities of the foreign legal system to the family.
Where was No Return filmed?
No Return is set in Turkey, but due to Covid restrictions it was actually filmed in Spain. The cast spent a month there filming many of the external shots and scenes.
However, the internal scenes, including the prison shots, were filmed in the not-so-sunny north of the UK - in Manchester and Bolton.
Ratings and reviews
Sheridan Smith has received plenty of praise for her role as Kathy Powell, with The Independent enthusing: "Smith, long one of British television’s most reliable performers, delivers another powerhouse performance as a mother witnessing her family disintegrate before her. It’s a true pleasure to watch her rage, often wine glass in hand, against the impotence of her situation."
It's a sentiment shared by the Radio Times, who gave No Return 4 stars and commented: "There's always something incredibly instinctual and, by default, convincing about her delivery that keeps you pinned there, waiting for her next move, and transports you right into the eye of the storm with her."
inews also gave No Return 4 stars and added is was "Yet another stellar performance from Sheridan Smith."
When can I watch No Return?
No Return begins at 9pm on Monday, 7 February on ITV, after which all four episodes will be available on ITV Hub and BritBox. ITV will continue to show episodes every Monday.