The Missing (BBC1) is a new eight-part series about a child abduction.

It borrows shamelessly from Scandi-dramas and the Madeleine McCann case, yet manages to avoid feeling like a ragbag of different influences and was actually quite enjoyable, with tonight's episode offering a mix of anxiety and heartbreak.

Mum, dad and child are on holiday in France and everything is sweet and lovely. It's actually a bit saccharine, as they laugh and frolic in a sunny meadow, then gather to make daisy chains. These twee family scenes felt very forced. I could easily imagine the director waving his hands behind the camera, instructing the actors to pile on more schmaltz, more middle-class familial bliss.

Clearly, no subtlety was allowed. This was to be the tale of a perfect child snatched from a perfect family. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a missing child drama on a grotty council estate? That would certainly call for a deft touch with room for a frosty subtext of whether or not the requisite junkie/single mother/scrounger was a good parent, and perhaps they brought it on themselves? But that might just be too subtle for prime-time BBC1, so we stick with the middle class parents.

Their sunny family holiday turns dark during a World Cup game. Tony (James Nesbitt) and his son, Olly, have been swimming. They're thirsty and push their way into a crowded bar where everyone is watching the football.

Tony kept Olly close to him and a brilliant sense of dread slowly began to build. We saw the bar from little Olly's viewpoint, down low amongst the suffocating crowd, amidst the shoving and the shouting. A place where a child could easily get lost.

He let Olly's hand go, just for a second, so he could pay for the drinks. In that instant, France scored against Brazil and the crowd rose to their feet. In the sudden rush, Tony lost sight of his son.

The subsequent scenes were horribly tense as Tony fought his way through a crowd who were oblivious to his panic. All eyes were fixed on the football, not on him, as he ran through the crowd and out into the summer night shouting for his son, but Olly had vanished.

Placing this scene in a happy crowd was a stroke of brilliance, showing how isolated and afraid Tony was, and how the crowd simply didn't care. This feeling of alienation in a foreign land was also cleverly teased out by the use of subtitles. They were employed when the French detectives were speaking to one another, but whenever Tony was present the subtitles vanished, leaving us frowning at the rapid French and sharing Tony's helplessness.

Because we were so steeped in his anxiety it was hard to see where the storyline might go. The French detective had declared of the missing boy, 'sadly, we find him immediately or not at all' and, of course, they didn't find him immediately. Instead they found clues which suggested he'd been taken to a dimly-lit basement and that doesn't bode well.

So incase the central plotline flops, there were lots of little subplots unfurling: we see from a flash-forward that Tony's wife has left him and is now living with one of the English detectives, whilst one of the French cops is now 'rotting in prison' for an unspecified reason.

The story does borrow heavily from the Madeleine McCann case: a child snatched in a foreign holiday resort; the mother clutching at a favourite cuddly toy; British police parachuted in; accusations the case was mishandled; the locals grow resentful of the media attention and a book is published about it all.

Some may fret over the morality of using the McCann case for simple entertainment but as long as the resultant programme is brilliant then I'm fine with it but, so far, The Missing isn't brilliant. It's good, peppered with some excellent moments, and tugs nicely at the heartstrings, but that doesn't justify plundering the McCann case for some good story tips.