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Interview with Anthony Horowitz (Creator and scriptwriter)
What was the inspiration for Collision?
I’ve always been interested in car accidents. In a sense, every car journey is a story and a car crash is, by its very nature, an extraordinary, unprecedented way for many stories to come together. The short answer to this question is that I travel a great deal between London and Orford, Suffolk, so I am well acquainted with the A12.
When did you start writing this?
I had the idea about ten years ago, began work on it, but then abandoned it, as I couldn’t make it work. The problem was the structure, which was always very complicated. Then, in 2008, my agent (Anthony Jones) mentioned it to ITV and suddenly I found myself revisiting my ideas.
I always knew it would be a five-part series. It just felt the right length. But I was thrilled when ITV decided to make it an “event drama” by scheduling it over one week. It’s a gripping story, I think, and will work very well in that format.
How would you describe it?
It is moving, tense, thrilling, compelling. I’d like to think it’s fairly unpredictable. I tried hard to make the stories move in unexpected directions so that often things aren’t quite what they seem. What is hidden in the Home 2 Bed van? What is Stanley really up to? I’m also interested in the metaphysical side of car accidents, the idea that the tiniest things can have huge, life-changing results. Cindy, the other waitress in the service station, doesn’t get involved in the car crash simply because she forgets her keys. How do we recognize these crucial moments in our lives? The answer is, of course, that we can’t – which is what makes them so compelling.
Collision is very much set in the real world and does hopefully connect with the way people live.
Does it show how the lives of people in a collision collide in the same way as the vehicles?
You could say that we’re all in a dance of death and we never know who we’re going to be waltzing with next. I love all the secret connections in Collision, which the characters never discover. When Karen steals her secret files, she has them photocopied at the shop owned by Brian. Tsegga is on the run from an East African conflict, which links in with Richard (who is on his way to an East African charity event). There’s almost a sort of inevitability that all the characters will somehow collide with each other.
What is the main focus?
The focus of Collision is the investigation carried out by the two police officers – John Tolin and Ann Stallwood – along with their own tangled relationship. That was the thread that allowed me to tie everything together. But of course it’s the car crash itself that lies at the very heart of the series. That’s what every story and every incident keeps on coming back to.
Does it explore how events cannot always be in our control?
I think we already know that events are often out of our control. But perhaps what Collision shows is the way that we are often at the control of events. You have to wait for the very last shot of the series to get the point. I do sometimes get the feeling that we’re being shuffled around by an invisible hand.
I am extremely proud of this programme. It’s certainly massively different from anything I’ve ever done before and I’m proud of the fact that the scripts managed to attract such a fantastic cast and such a talented director. In a sense, I’ve already achieved what I wanted. Now I just hope that the general public finds the show intriguing and enjoyable.
Do you think it will be thought-provoking?
The few people who have seen Collision so far have found it thought-provoking. Certainly, there’s been a lot of discussion about what might happen to the characters next – some of the stories are left purposefully open-ended.
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