Collision: ITV viewing event

Sunday, 08 November 2009 19:47

Collision was something I jumped at the chance of reviewing. A top notch cast had been picked. We have Douglas Henshall (Primeval), Kate Ashfield (“Shaun of the Dead”, “This Little Life”), Paul McGann (Doctor Who, “Withnail and I”), David Bamber (Rome), Lucy Griffiths (Robin Hood), Phil Davis (Bleak House, “The Curse of Steptoe”), Claire Rushbrook (“Secrets & Lies”, “Mutual Friends”), brothers Craig Kelly (Queer as Folk, Coronation Street), Dean Lennox Kelly (Shameless) and Sylvia Syms (where do I start?).

Many millions of us prefer to be in some degree of control of our lives; that especially seems to apply when behind the wheel of our cars. We’re all going between A and B, within our own little story, which would not be of interest to anyone else most of the time. We all minding our own business, not interacting with those around us other than to overtake, change lanes, or perhaps to shout a bit of abuse that no one hears.

Collision on DVDOur lives don’t interact until something happens – when it does, does it change our lives fundamentally, or is it a momentary diversion, until we’re back on the old timeline? That’s the overall premise behind Collision.

Take me, two months ago heading for an evening out down the M4. I’d not got two miles from home and I was in a tailback – I was still there two hours later, not having moved an inch, in “blocked traffic.” The radio travel news was advising that a van had overturned just before the next exit, so no way of moving forward, and that we would all be “turned around.” Judging by the queue behind me, there were many more hours ahead for that to happen. Had I left five minutes earlier, would I have been caught up in the accident? Had I left five minutes later, would I have heard the travel news and used an alternate route, and thus known the significance of the flashing 50 on the M4 on ramp?

Ultimately, I was two hours later getting to my destination, left about the same time and as far as I know my timeline is unaffected, except I’m now writing this. Anyway I digress.

So swap the M4, a road I regularly use, for the A12 used regularly by creator Anthony Horowich (Foyle’s War), who co-wrote Collision with Mark A Walker. This crash certainly changes lives as we’ll all see in a rare piece of event television from ITV1, Monday to Friday next week (9 – 13 November 2009) at 9.00pm.

In episode one, we’re introduced to most of our characters including the members of RCIT (an unfortunate acronym [read it as written]) – the Road Crash Investigation Team. Each character seems to have equal amount of screen time, not concentrating on any one. The writers seem to have known the ultimate journey each of the characters was to travel, but then jumbled all the pieces up and spread them over the five episodes. This works very well when key character revelations occur in later episodes.

Most of the first hour happens in the three days building to the crash. D.I. John Tolin (Henshall) is looking backwards to the crash. Some characters are killed, some injured, some walk-away and some are caught in the events that follow. By the time the crash happens on screen you’ll have a good ideal which is which as D.I. Tolin sketches out the relative final journeys of the vehicles on the wall in his office as the episode progresses, with pictures of the sometimes fatally injured alongside. The closing minutes then happen in real-time.

In the commentary that covered episodes one and two of my review copy DVD, Anthony reveals how the first episode went through seven re-writes and looking back over all five you can see why that would have been. The episodes following the crash start knocking out some of our characters as story lines are wrapped up as others advance incrementally or in larger chunks. More story threads are added too. The commentary also revealed that Collision features the largest car crash ever filmed for British TV.

Collision certainly has more stories in each vehicle and with those caught up in subsequent events than must surely be possible, but then where would the likes of Midsomer Murders have been without… murders?

The end of episode four had me saying to myself “No! Surely not!” though in hindsight I had jumped just too many plot threads ahead in my mind. Most of the revelations that follow work, but if I ever met Anthony or Mark I would have to take them to task over one plot reveal. Okay, it was not what was expected – and it did however have me laughing out loud, but...!!! - I’ll give nothing away, but if you watched The One Show on BBC1 the Wednesday after our 2007 Festival, you may have a clue.

Collision is certainly a great piece of event TV and worthy of a nomination in next year's Cult TV Awards under the 'Best Mini-Series or Special' category. It gets you thinking about the how it’s not big events that ultimately change your life but can sometimes be the smallest, but does it answer the “What if” question? Tune in at 9.00pm all this week and find out.

Collision is released by 4DVD as a 2 disc set on 16 November 2009, with a ’15’ certificate and a running time of 300 minutes approx.  It is available with a RRP of £19.99, or less from


Collision (ITV1, 09-13/11/09)


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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