tv series

‘Collateral’ review: Good intentions and the right ingredients, but the punch is missing

Although the BBC/Netflix mini-series is packed with interesting characters, it promises far more than it delivers.

It’s clear from the trailer itself that the BBC-Netflix series Collateral sets out to be an ambitious police procedural laced with social commentary. For some part, the audience can be convinced that the ambition is backed by a fair share of substance too. Written by Academy Award nominated David Hare (The Hours, The Reader) and directed by SJ Clarkson, the mini-series comes with a great premise and an awe-inspiring cast consisting of Carey Mulligan, John Simms, Nicola Walker (the most promising face on British television) and Doctor Who alumnus Billie Piper.

The series begins with a pizza delivery man, Abdullah Asif, being shot down in suburban London while on the job. What follows is a four-hour police procedural that unwraps coincidences, connections and the many concentric circles that surround this seemingly isolated murder.

Detective Kip Glaspie (Mulligan) is also a former Olympic pole vaulter whose career ended with a terrible fall that was broadcast and replayed on British television long enough for her to go from bright-eyed sports figure to disillusioned cop. Glaspie connects what seems like a hate crime to all that is wrong in the post-Brexit era. But she isn’t alone in her analysis of the state of the nation. She gets some help from David Mars (Simms) a frustrated Labour Party Member of Parliament who seems to be airing Hare’s own political views when he says, “We really are turning into a nasty little country.” Unfortunately, he does so in a crucial television interview.

As MI5 gets involved in what could be written off as a one-off murder, Glaspie starts to pick at the spiral that is being woven around the two Iraqi women she finds living inside a garage, Asif’s sisters Mona and Fatima.


Rather than a whodunit, the series, as its title suggests, is a meditation on collateral damage and a comment on immigration policy and the xenophobia and racism washing over a country reeling from political readjustments.

While Collateral clearly arrives with good intentions and has all the best ingredients, the show does not deliver all that it promises. It has a little too much of everything – an MP dealing with a volatile ex-wife, a drug ring run from a pizza delivery place, a vicar at odds with her church and bishop for being in love with an illegal Vietnamese immigrant, a Turkish gang of human traffickers, and a PTSD-affected female soldier being harassed by a abusive superior officer.

Collateral initiates multiple compelling storylines, but not all of them get the resolution they deserve. While Mulligan shines as a calm and uncomplicated Glaspie, Walker’s storyline fails to create empathy and seems like an arc that either needed more development or a brutal editing job. Billie Piper, on the other hand, is explosive in what could be her best performance yet as Karen Mars, the erratic drug-addled ex-wife of David Mars. The series does do something no crime thrillers have done before. It features a raft of female characters. Glaspie, Reverend Jane Oliver, Captain Sandrine Shaw, Fatima and Mona and undercover MI5 agent Berna Yalaz are all crucial to the story.

Collateral could have been great contemporary television. Carey Mulligan is impeccable as Kip Glaspie, but she deserved more than a half-baked back story. David Hare has already announced that there won’t be a second season, but there should be one, if only to give us some closure on the relevance of Kip Glaspie’s pole-vaulting career.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.