I’m writing this review surrounded by cuddly toys, tea and chocolate. After 10 minutes, I’ve finally stopped crying, having just watched The Crash, BBC3’s new two part drama exploring the emotional aftermath of a car crash involving seven teenage friends. Part one concerns the lead-up to the crash and the events immediately after.
At first, I wasn’t too gripped. The opening image of a handsome young man coming up from a bath reminded me strongly of an image I’d seen in a Skins trailer. I never got round to watching Skins, but I was worried that this meant The Crash would be a teen drama full of drugs and booze. The car crash itself wasn’t too dramatic, and certainly not very original. Dark night, excited kids, third car trying to overtake in wet weather, even without the show’s title you’d have known what was coming.
Then, ever so predictably, we had an extended flashback to six months earlier. Our characters are all attending their prom. Rachel has split with her boyfriend, but gets back together with Ethan, her previous boyfriend. Her best mate Kate gets engaged to Tom, using a ring that other best mate Ashley has designed. Ashley’s father has dementia and her mother has died. Tom’s brother Brian dreams of being a professional footballer and starts dating Rachel’s sister, Leah. Their happy smiles and carefree dancing is documented by plenty of photos and video, all uploaded to Facebook and no doubt to be poured over by grieving relatives in Part two. The best bit of this section was the utterly gorgeous proposal. Kate is a keen swimmer, so Tom decorates the school swimming pool with fairylights. I was totally charmed.
Without realising it, I’d grown to like these characters. Really like them. They were fun, essentially nice people. Why did any of them have to die? Especially Ashley, she’s really cool and arty and has a tragic life. But it was ok, because after the crash Ashley woke up and got out of the car. She is in shock, but she’ll make it. Lily Loveless, who plays her, will probably also get a BAFTA nomination because those scenes were tremendous. Suddenly, I am glued to the screen, as anxious as the parents now running across the field to find out their child’s fate.
There’s a horrible confusion as the police scramble to deliver the correct information. Brian has died, a gory mess of blood and wide-eyed terror. Kate and Rachel are going to hospital. Tom seems ok. Everyone’s forgotten Ethan. Leah is ok, but grief stricken by the loss of her boyfriend. And then the unthinkable happens. Ashley pitches forward, coughs up blood, and quietly dies. The howl of the fireman as he tried to revive her wins scene of the year so far for me. It’s only been an hour, but I care about these people. It remains to be seen whether next week we’ll trot out the clichés ‘they were too young to die’ etc, but actually, they are. I’m not familiar with most of the actors involved and this makes it worse. They could be real people. In fact, and this is the most horrible fact of all, The Crash is based on true events. I cannot imagine what life must be like for the real families involved, but I hope that if they watched The Crash, they felt that the performances did justice to the victims. The Crash felt like an incredibly important piece of drama. This is the sort of thing BBC3 should be showing to their younger demographic and I hope it hits home for a lot of people. I think that all concerned should be praised for an excellent, powerful drama. Cuddly toys at the ready, I shall be watching next week.
The Crash Concludes Tuesday at 9.00pm on BBC3
Contributed by Victoria Prior