Collateral: Cast, locations and 3 other things you need to know about the new BBC Two drama with Carey Mulligan

Aimée Grant Cumberbatch
BBC/The Forge

Police dramas are often accused of sticking rigidly to the same old tired format – maverick detective with troubled private life and alcohol issues etc. Collateral, not so much. It’s part thriller, part political piece, part divorce drama, part conflicted love letter to London.

Not to mention it has a cast of heavyweights, with lead Carey Mulligan in a rare TV role and support from John Simm and Billie Piper.

Here's everything you need to know about the new BBC Two series.

1. It’s been described as a ‘modern-day state of the nation’ series

We’re not sure either. But what is for certain is that despite Collateral being director and playwright David Hare’s first foray into episodic writing for TV, he’s not shying away from tricky subject matter.

New thriller: Carey Mulligan as DI Kip Glaspie in Collateral (BBC/The Forge)

He told Radio Times that he was inspired to create the story when he saw a man delivering pizza on a motorbike near his home. While Collateral is to some extent a police drama, it forgoes forensic detail on case-solving for nuanced explorations of how migration is changing the capital.

It touches on the lives of those caught up in the city’s fluctuating state, from its shady underbelly all the way to the hallowed halls of Westminster.

2. Carey Mulligan stars as police officer DI Kip Glaspie

Mulligan plays dedicated detective Kip Glaspie who juggles a high-pressure career at the police station with domestic demands in her private life.

The actress was pregnant at the time of the project, so her character was altered slightly to become an expectant mother also. Not that that changed the plot much, as Glaspie’s pregnancy is mentioned maybe twice throughout the drama’s four episodes.

Mulligan told the BBC that she wanted to play Kip as soon as she read the script.

“The character I played in [Hare's] play Skylight was one of my favourite characters, and so, now, is Kip. There is such a scarcity of great writing for women and this drama has so much,” she said.

“What I love is that they are not all likeable - they are flawed, three-dimensional, real people.”

3. John Simm plays frustrated Labour MP David Mars and Billie Piper is his struggling ex-wife Karen

It’s something of a Doctor Who reunion for these two, with Simm having played the master and Piper still being one of the best-loved assistants in recent series.

This time the pair are playing separated couple David and Karen Mars. Labour MP David’s dedication to his job is to blame for the couple’s split, and Karen, who has also just lost her job isn’t coping well. With smoking and drinking at the forefront of her mind, she’s struggling to take proper care of their daughter.

Meanwhile, there are difficulties at work for David who gets himself into trouble with his party for publicly speaking out against one of their policies.

4. The show takes a clear-eyed look at London

London locations: John Simm as David Mars (BBC/The Forge)

Hare is no Richard Curtis and this is certainly no Notting Hill. That isn’t to say there isn’t some idealism, but the writer is concerned with London’s dark and often dangerous subculture, which here means delivery drivers who moonlight as drug dealers and illegal immigrants afraid of being forced out of their new homes.

As production took place during the London Bridge and Westminster attacks, Mulligan described filming as ‘tense’.

“We were literally filming scenes on bridges which two weeks later had huge bollards up on them because there had been terrorist attacks there,” she revealed.

“So it was a slightly tense time to shoot in the city but it was also amazing. You get to put these iconic places on camera and there is something wonderful about getting to walk along Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament behind you and to see parts of London you never go to.”

Meanwhile Piper said she feels the drama “shows London in all of its ugly truths”.

She said: “At times, it feels very underworld even though these are things that are happening on our streets all the time at the moment.”

5. It unfolds across four parts

The first of Collateral's four episodes kicks off on Monday, February 12 at 9pm on BBC Two.