FORGET Bodyguard. Sunday night drama has taken an even more sinister turn with the arrival of new Jenna Coleman thriller The Cry.

This unsettling tale of child abduction and a young mother’s trial-by-media kicked off on BBC ONE last night to rave reviews.

It has been adapted from the novel of the same name by Glasgow-based author Helen FitzGerald and follows the story of Joanna (Coleman) and Alistair (Top of the Lake’s Ewan Leslie), a young couple who travel to Australia to fight for custody of Alistair’s daughter from a previous relationship.

After an excruciating flight – an uncomfortable scene which will strike a chord with anyone who has ever travelled any distance with a fractious newborn – the unthinkable happens, and the baby is abducted.

What follows is a terrifying story of a young woman in crisis, trying to cope with every parent’s worst nightmare.

Australian-born Helen, author of a string of successful thrillers, is certain the roots of her novel – which has been adapted by screenwriter Jacqueline Perske – lie in her own experience of new motherhood.

“Between having my daughter Anna and going to Australia, I was having problems breastfeeding, we weren’t sleeping – I’d see other mothers, women I’d met at my antenatal classes and think, how is she doing that?” she recalls, over coffee in Glasgow city centre.

“It’s a common sign of post-natal depression, the feeling that everyone else is coping.”

The turning point came, she says, when Anna – who is now 21 - was nine months old.

“We were in the back seat of the car, and I was doing that thing of – don’t look at the baby, in case she starts to cry again,” she recalls. “And then I turned around and looked at her and she was just sitting there, smiling at me. That was the moment – the one that happens for most mothers at the birth? It happened to me right then.”

The Cry, which was published in 2013, was also influenced by Helen’s interest in two high profile child abduction cases of recent times.

FitzGerald was a teenager in Australia in 1980 when Lindy Chamberlain was wrongfully convicted of murdering her nine-week-old daughter. The case was highly publicised, and Chamberlain was jailed. After new evidence was discovered, she was released and cleared in 1988.

In 2007, four-year-old Madeleine McCann vanished from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz, sparking another high profile media campaign.

“I saw Lindy speaking on television to the McCanns, giving them support and I thought – what a terrible community this is, what an awful thing by which to be bound together.”

She adds: “I have always believed both of them. But thinking about their cases made me wonder – what kind of couple would get away with something like this? What would have to be going on behind the scenes in that relationship?”

The idea may have taken root years before, but the themes of The Cry are contemporary – trial by media and social media; pressure on women; the myths and truths of motherhood.

“There is a great deal of pressure on young mothers,” says Helen, simply. “Everything they do is under the spotlight. Lindy had it hard enough, but everything is so capturable now.”

Helen lives on Glasgow’s south side with her husband, screenwriter Sergio Casci and their two children, Anna and Joe. For the last 10 years, she has been a criminal justice social worker, based latterly in the community in Paisley.

“A friend said to me recently my writing and social work are actually quite similar - you get to know somebody, work out why they have problems and fix them - or make them worse,” she says. “People in crisis, moral dilemmas…she has a point. Spending a day inside Joanna’s head was sometimes as emotionally demanding as spending a day inside a prison.”

Now Helen is enjoying a seven-way auction for the rights to film her next book Worst Case Scenario, set inside the criminal justice system - “it will be Americanised, which is a shame for Paisley,” she smiles – and she has been commissioned to write the TV script for her novel Australia Day, a ‘domestic disaster noir’ full of small-town secrets set against a devastating bush fire.

“Natural disasters interest me, they seem to be happening more and more,” she says. “I’m loving writing it.”

Before we leave, Helen suggests the nearby Necropolis as a backdrop for photographs to go along with the article.

“It fits in with the feel of the show,” she explains. “It is Gothic. It is pure horror.”

The Cry continues on BBC ONE on Sunday.