BBC3’s The Crash review: Sacha Parkinson & Lily Loveless have some unbelievable dialogue but it has a brilliant final act
If there’s one thing you can say about BBC Three it is that they always try to pitch their programmes at their target audience. This has been seen most recently in their excellent documentary Growing Up Poor and their enjoyable docusoap People Like Us. Now they attempt to do this again with new drama documentary The Crash which is said to have been inspired by true events. Though those true events are never revealed the drama itself revolves around a group of friends who are involved in a car crash during the Christmas period. The Crash takes us back and forth in time to let us know more about these characters and what impact the events of the car crash will have on their various relationships.
The drama starts by introducing us to Kate Harper, played by former Corrie star Sacha Parkinson, who has returned home after her first term at university. Kate and boyfriend Tom attempt a passionate reunion however this is spoilt by Kate’s friend Rachel who suggests that the pair come to the local pub for a drink. Kate initially turns down the offer but once she learns that several other friends are joining them she accepts Rachel’s offer. The trio are joined by Rachel’s boyfriend Ethan and mutual friend Ashley who is loved by the entire group despite being somewhat stand-offish. We later meet Rachel’s sister Leah who tags along to the pub despite Rachel thinking that Leah should be spending time with their sick mother. The final member of the crew is Tom’s aspiring footballer brother Brian who is also Leah’s boyfriend. When the group leave the pub heavy rain has started and the scene is set for a classic crash especially considering that they’re driving down some very narrow country lanes. Soon another car attempts to overtake the two cars the group are in and Tom’s last minute decision to accelerate costs him dearly. As Tom’s car crashes into the one his other friends are in the drama takes us back six months into the past to the day of the group’s final day of school.
These flashback scenes show the gang trying to convince Rachel to come to the school prom despite recently breaking up with her boyfriend. To me it appeared as if Rachel was incredibly stupid as Kate and Ashley both convince her to change into her prom dress just to take a photo but soon she is forced into the limo that the rest of the group are taking. These scenes also show us more about the youngster’s living situations with Tom and Brian’s parents being fairly down-to-Earth while Kate’s are little bit more highbrow. We also learn that Ashley’s mother has recently passed away meaning that she has had to organise her own prom dress as her father still hasn’t got over the trauma of her mother’s death. As Kate’s parents hold a pre-prom party for the kids and their families we see Brian attempt to flirt with an uninterested Leah who has no desire to attend the prom. Later Tom proposes to Kate who accepts and by the end of the prom all of the group are happy however we know this doesn’t last forever.
Personally I found the final act the most powerful as we survey the damage done by the car crash and which of our protagonists have survived. The majority of these scenes are viewed through the eyes of Ashley, who gets out of the car almost instantly and is shocked to see several of her friends fighting for their lives. Ashley is able to help the emergency services to identify the majority of the group who are then in turn taken to various hospitals. As the three sets of parents are informed of the tragedy we the audience are aware that two of the group have already died making the crash all the more heartbreaking.
It is clear to me that The Crash has been incredibly well-researched as the scenes of the car crash itself and the reactions by various family members were the best elements of the drama. Director Sarah Walker builds up the drama by not immediately revealing who has survived the crash. Instead she has view the crash from the perspective of Ashley as she watches her friends being taken away to hospital while she herself is powerless to do anything. Terry Caffola’s script is also at its best in these final scenes however there is also some well-observed dialogue between the parents of our teenage protagonists. For me the problem is that Caffola can’t really write convincing teenage dialogue therefore I wasn’t really a fan of the scenes leading up to the prom. Of the cast the stand-out to me was former Skins actress Lily Loveless as Ashley the dependable member of the group who has had to suffer silently through her personal tragedy. Loveless’ expressions during the aftermath of the crash were absolutely brilliant and helped to give a realistic aspect to the accident. The performances from some of the other cast members were patchy at best but I feel the use of former soap stars was a good way to appeal to BBC Three’s core audience. One thing that The Crash did have going for it was a convincing chemistry between the younger cast members which made me believe that this group had been friends forever.
While The Crash isn’t the most original piece of programming you’ll ever see it’s still an interesting piece of television. Though we have seen car crashes on TV a multitude of times this one feels very realistic and to me the strengths of The Crash mainly lay in its final act. While I had trouble believing some of the dialogue throughout the episode I still found elements of The Crash very realistic mainly due to the chemistry between the young cast. Overall Caffola has made interested enough in these characters to watch the concluding part of The Crash and discover what impact the accident will have on the group as a whole.
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