Sinister BBC drama shines light on Edinburgh ‘alpha girls’

Clique turns the camera on the dark side of Edinburgh. Picture: BBC Pictures
Clique turns the camera on the dark side of Edinburgh. Picture: BBC Pictures
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Move over Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy and Spud – it’s time for Holly, Georgia, Rachel and Phoebe to grab the limelight.

The BBC has lifted the lid on the “alpha girls” set to shine a sinister new light on university life in Edinburgh in Clique – a new drama set and shot in the city last year.

Led by their formidable lecturer Jude McDermid – who has been touted as the 21st century’s answer to Miss Jean Brodie – the elite group of girls are drawn into a dark ­underworld a far cry from the tourism industry’s traditional portrayal of Edinburgh.

The psychological thriller, set in “a seductive world of lavish parties, populated by Edinburgh’s highest-powered business men and women”, launches on BBC Three next weekend after more a four-month filming schedule across the city last autumn.

The six-part drama, which launches on 5 March, has been created for BBC 3 by Jess Brittain, a writers on the hit series Skins, which followed a group of students in Bristol.

Clique – which is billed as a “seductive, intense drama about friendship tested to extremes” – focuses on two Scottish teenagers, Holly and Georgia, who have known each other since childhood and enroll on the same business course together.

They are both intrigued by their economics lecturer, including her outspoken take on modern-day feminism and the internship programme for star female students she oversees.

Addressing the new intake of students, McDermid tells them: “Feminism in this country has been infected with misinformation and an obsession with being offended. I am here to help you reclaim it.

“I’m not going to sit and cry with you when you graduate and realise the system isn’t fair. Of course it’s not. Get over it. Take action. Let’s be perfectly clear. This is about you and whether you are exceptional. If you’re not the best, then don’t waste my time, I don’t like you.”

A chilling trailer for the series features a voiceover from McDermid, who is played by Sherlock star Louise Brealey, saying: “You already know you have got what it takes.Now you have an opportunity to prove it. We are creating a world where you can be the boss, not a victim. Do you have what it takes? Show me.”

As Georgia is drawn into the group of elite students and their hedonistic lifestyle, alarm bells quickly start ringing for Holly about the world they are inhabiting. When Holly starts investigating the background of the Solasta Women’s Initiative and turns up at the lavish New Town flat they are sharing, her suspicions quickly turn to fear.

Brittain said: “Clique is about a best friendship in crisis, framed by the wider insecurity of being a young woman starting university in a pressurised and uncertain time.

“It’s about an alluring group of women and their charismatic leader, who all seem to have worked out what they’re doing, and the ways in which our protagonists respond differently to that group.

“It takes an issue that’s pretty ubiquitous to young women and places it in a thriller setting.

“The stakes are high and it goes to some pretty dark places.”

Rosie Ellison, manager of the Film Edinburgh commission, said: “The filmmakers behind Clique were determined to put a very contemporary Edinburgh on the screen and made use of locations all around the city. Location-spotters will have a field-day.

“Film Edinburgh promotes the city region as a film friendly destination and it’s testament to the city’s reputation as a film-friendly destination that we are able to attract such high-profile productions as this.

“If Clique helps to promote the city’s university offering, this is an added bonus.”