Trauma centres around the two leads who have entirely different family lives.
Jon Allerton (Adrian Lester) is one of the leading hospital surgeons in London, with a happy wife and daughter and an affluent lifestyle, while Dan Bowker (John Simm) is about to be made redundant from a factory, and back to his comparative hovel with a wife and three children.
However, a situation has led to Dan’s eldest son, Alex, being put in hospital with a life-threatening condition. Expert rock climber – when havig a daddy-daughter day – and clean-shaven Jon ends up in a brief conversation with Dan about the lad’s condition, which soon worsens, as the requisite operation turns out to be far more difficult and complicated than first thought. When Alex dies, Dan takes a single line from a brief conversation with Jon, about how his son was going to be alright, and runs with that. He also assumes the surgeon is lying, and struggles to get past that, picking him up on every last nuance and twisting what he said.
Was he telling the truth? Was he lying? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out, but every time it gets to a mini cliffhanger*, along comes an ad break.
(cliffhanger? rock climbing? No, you shut up!)
John Simm continues to prove that he’s one of Britain’s finest actors, as his character has to endure the hardest thing a parent can go through, while Lyndsey Marshal is also superb as his wife, Susie. Lester is also good, although he’s fairly similar in everything in which I’ve seen him.
When I first saw the trailer for Trauma, I had a feeling it was going to get a bit ‘Single White Female‘, but without giving spoilers, the first episode did provide a twist I was NOT expecting. Some may do, but I often put my brain in neutral when I’m watching a film or TV show. After all, why try and second guess a production? Just sit back and enjoy the drama!
That said, there are a number of implausible moments that come up, which obviously I won’t mention, but it just feels like they tried to Hollywoodise it a bit too much. Plus, there are elements, at time, that make it feel like a dumb soap opera. However, even when it does that, the performances from Simm and Marshal pull this through.
So, after a strong opener, the second episode faltered somewhat, and the third a bit more – albeit not quite as much once I’d had time to think about it. I’ve added more thoughts about all that now the finale has aired, and they’re also hidden behind a spoiler heading so you can’t accidentally stumble on them. If you do comment on this, please refrain from putting spoilers.
About John Simm dramas in general, and I’ll add that after there not being any on TV for a short while, like buses, two have come along at once! Both Trauma and BBC2’s Collateral clash at 9pm on the same evening. Thankfully, they only clash the once, since while Collateral is a weekly drama, Trauma airs over three consecutive nights – a rarity in UK television, but a welcome one in these days when ‘streaming all episodes’ is regularly heard from Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Episode 1: 8/10
Episode 2: 6/10
Episode 3: 5/10
Director: Marc Evans
Producer: Catherine Oldfield
Creator/Writer: Mike Bartlett
Music: Christian Henson
Jon Allerton: Adrian Lester
Dan Bowker: John Simm
Susie Bowker: Lyndsey Marshal
Nora Barker: Jemima Rooper
Alana Allerton: Jade Anouka
Catherine Bowker: Raffiella Chapman
Mark Bowker: James Gasson
Dave Saunders: Calvin Dean
Steve Beckett: Steven Elder
Julia Lancing: Hara Yannas
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.