Double Trouble

No, you’re not seeing double. Yes, that is the estimable John Simm, once of Life on Mars – in two shows running at the same time on different channels, Collateral (Monday, BBC2, 9pm) and Trauma (Monday, ITV, 9pm). Yes, both are by leading playwrights – the Beeb has got David Hare, while on the other side it’s Mike Bartlett, the man behind King Charles III on stage as well as the sublimely addictive Doctor Foster. And, yes, both shows begin with the murder of a young man – a pizza driver shot dead in Collateral and a teenage son stabbed to death in Trauma.

But that not inconsiderable amount of overlap apart, these thrillers are very different beasts. Hare’s creation features a starry cast, including Carey Mulligan as a detective investigating the killing, but though the mystery, featuring Simm as a Labour MP closely involved with the case, promises to be intriguing, the clunkily stagey dialogue has all too many dead flat moments. Not so Trauma, in which emotions run high from the start as Simm’s grieving father furiously battles for justice, convinced that the experienced surgeon (Adrian Lester) who operated on his son is to blame for the death. Quite where the truth of the matter lies we’ll find out as the story plays out over three consecutive nights, but Simm’s lean intensity and Lester’s cool-headed poise are well matched in an epic battle that has been cunningly crafted by Bartlett to keep us riveted. 

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