Domino Day review: BBC takes a bold step into the supernatural with new Manchester-set witch drama

It's not your typical offering from the BBC - but the change of pace from the corporation is a welcome one.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

With the exception of Dr Who, the BBC are not really known for their fantasy and supernatural dramas. But its newest show, about a modern witch navigating the equally dangerous worlds of dating and dark magic, is a refreshing departure from police procedurals and period dramas. 

The six-part series is filmed and set right here in Manchester, which should also be a refreshing change for us northerners. It premieres on Wednesday 31 January on BBC Three, when all episodes will also be available to stream on iPlayer. 

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It tells the story of Domino Day, played by Siena Kelly (Adult Material, Hit & Run), whose growing powers have attracted the attention of the local witch coven, as well as a shady figure from her past. At the same time, the young witch, who is a Northern Quarter barista by day, has to spend her evenings preying on unsuspecting men to ‘feed’ on in order to survive. Her powers have left her isolated and with no-one to turn to for help. 

We were lucky enough to attend the show’s premiere last week at Vue cinema Printworks, where we got a first look at the first episode. Here is a taster of what to expect. 

Domino Day, filmed and set in Manchester, premieres on BBC Three on 31 January. Credit: Dancing Ledge Productions/Sophie MutevelianDomino Day, filmed and set in Manchester, premieres on BBC Three on 31 January. Credit: Dancing Ledge Productions/Sophie Mutevelian
Domino Day, filmed and set in Manchester, premieres on BBC Three on 31 January. Credit: Dancing Ledge Productions/Sophie Mutevelian

Domino Day is certainly a reason for UK fans of witchy cult classic The Craft or more modern US fantasies like True Blood and American Horror Story to get excited. The new BBC show, written by BAFTA-nominated Lauren Sequeira, is sexy, dark and gritty, dealing with themes that young people today, particularly women, will find all too familiar, like the perils of online dating or just generally trying to find your place in the world. Things get really tense for Domino at points, with some thrilling moments where it’s hard to tell if she is the victim or the threat. The tone for all of this action is set in the opening scenes, where we see the beautiful, latex-clad Domino Day preparing for one of her fateful dates – not something you’re likely to see on family-friendly Doctor Who, that’s for sure. 

With a female writer at its helm, as well as a strong female lead and predominantly female cast, what women can achieve together is the heart of the show. Witches in popular culture are often used as symbols of both female empowerment and historic oppression – and that’s why it works so well. By the end of the first episode, we only have a brief introduction to the coven members and their individual talents, but I’m already looking forward to what this powerful group of women will get up to. 

Alisha Bailey as Kat (Image: BBC/Dancing Ledge Productions/Sophie Mutevelian)Alisha Bailey as Kat (Image: BBC/Dancing Ledge Productions/Sophie Mutevelian)
Alisha Bailey as Kat (Image: BBC/Dancing Ledge Productions/Sophie Mutevelian)
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It might be my Mancunian bias talking, but it’s also great to see Manchester on screen – and not just the usual landmarks, but a side of the city that is very familiar to locals, especially if you frequent the bars and vintage shops of the Northern Quarter, which features heavily. Ahead of the premiere, we had a chance to chat to Lauren Sequeira about the location choice, which was originally London but moved up north as part of the BBC’s push for more regional representation. She cited the Manchester aesthetic as its selling point, a mix of glass towers and Victorian warehouses, but I think it makes total sense to set a contemporary fantasy here. While Manchester is forever modernising, there is a lot of history in these streets, full of its own stories and mysteries. 

Shows like this are more likely to be found on the streaming sites, which have the big budgets to throw at special effects, exotic settings and star-studded casts. But from what we’ve seen so far, Domino Day is testament to what tax-payer money and homegrown talent can achieve. Hopefully, this is also a sign that we’ll see more UK-based, female-led fantasies in the future. And more shows set in Manchester, of course.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.