From The Irish Times (Beware of spoilers!):
Stolen (BBC1, Sunday), a thought-provoking and moving drama about child trafficking into Britain, managed to stay – just – on the fine line that runs in these heavily themed films between information and entertainment, largely thanks to the powerful performances of the child actors Gloria Oyewumi, Huy Pham and Inokentijs Vitkevics.
Damian Lewis was Detective Carter from Manchester police’s human trafficking unit working on a case that started when an 11-year-old West African child was found alone at the airport. Three different stories of trafficking, linked only by Carter, told the story. There was Rosemary, the silent, resilient 11-year-old who thought she was coming to England for an education but ended up being sold for £4,000 to an African family to be used as a house servant; Kim Pak from Vietnam, imprisoned in a cannabis-growing house in suburbia; and 14-year-old Ukranian Georgie, whose dreams of starting a new life end with enslavement in a sandwich-making factory …
The use of a split screen to show the contrast between Carter’s care for his own young daughter and the unprotected, exploited lives of the trafficked children was a little heavy-handed, and the unequal time given to the three stories was puzzling. Rosemary and Georgie’s stories were told in full, while Kim Pak’s story was little more than a distant sub-plot fading in and out of the film, so that it was difficult to care or even understand much about his plight.
For a drama keen to expose facts, there were twists that strained credibility … Still the drama threw a little light onto a difficult subject, without quite being the thriller it was billed as.
From the Telegraph:
Instead, they offer us something as good as Stolen (BBC One) and end it with a few pages of credits that I, a speedy reader, couldn’t read half of. There were ways that Stolen could have been better. To those who have been faced with the dreadful results, it might seem that child-trafficking is the product of an indifferent society, but the more complicated truth is that society, whether it cared or not, would find it hard to do something about it. It’s one thing to underline the dilemma presented by the awkward fact that the law protects the rights of criminals, but another to suggest, as the final scenes of the show did, that a young person could fall unconscious in public and the public would not react.
Scenes like that looked like painting the dark darker, but the show was redeemed and made serious by some wonderful acting, especially from Damian Lewis, the leading man. After Band of Brothers he was set fair for an all-American career, but he decided to spend some of his time with us, with the result that he has been in some pretty dreary stuff. This programme was worthy of him.