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bevan on the box; nathan bevan casts a critical eye over the week's tv.

AS the man credited with reinventing The Master - possibly the most unhinged sociopath in the known universe - on Doctor Who, you probably know that Jon Simm does crazy very well.

Scarily well, in fact, as he proved in Trauma - ITV's tense drama which ran across three consecutive nights last week.

As unassuming everyman Dan Bowker, Simm looked like the kind of bloke you'd happily go to the pub with - and that was the first place Dan did go after hearing he'd just been made redundant.

But, while he was away drowning his sorrows, his mop-headed teenage son was being stabbed in a row over a girl outside a takeaway chicken restaurant across town.

Enter Adrian Lester's uber-calm and confident surgeon Jon Allerton, selflessly cutting short his own birthday party celebrations to save the stricken boy.

Except it didn't quite go like that, the patient died on the operating table and Bowker, wracked with guilt about not having been there for his son when it counted most, became fixated on proving that a fatal mistake had been made during the procedure.

And with that economic set-up Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett unleashed a tense two-handed game of cat and mouse, with Simm, er, simmering with barely restrained anger as he systematically set about destroying the life of the medic he blamed for the loss.

That said, many of those viewing at home couldn't grasp why he'd chosen Lester's character as the target of his obsession, rather than actively helping police seek out who'd assaulted his boy.

But that's just the nature of grief. It can also set you off on unexpected and wildly disparate courses, turning you into anything from crusading campaigner running awarenessraising marathons around the globe to a self-medicating shut-in with suicidal tendencies.

And, in Bowker's case, he became Allerton's toxic, corroding shadow - inviting him to his lad's funeral only to single him out from the pulpit with coruscating eyes, not to mention stalkerishly getting himself a new job in the same hospital's coffee shop.

Most chillingly of all though was the scene where he inveigled himself into Allerton's house by convincing his home alone young daughter that he was a friend of her dad's.

Watching him switch from smiley bonhomie to deadeyed steeliness, quietly unplugging the family phone and pulling a kitchen knife from his bag, was chilling.

Traumatic: Jon Simm That said, Trauma wasn't without its faults, chief among them demanding we root for someone crazed enough to hold a blade to a young girl's throat in order to force her father's confession, no matter their tragic motivation.

Furthermore, there was a rather pat ending which saw Bowker returned to the bosom of his estranged family, while Allerton - finally copping to having made a fatal error - was left disgraced at work and disowned by his loved ones.

Still, it was great to see two talented actors facing off like that, despite the script's occasional flat-lining.

| SOCIAL services sitcom Damned delivers the best bleak laughs since Jo Brand's other dramedy, the NHS geriatric ward-set Getting On. Great to see the peerless Kevin Eldon getting more screen time too.

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Traumatic: Jon Simm

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 18, 2018
Words:525
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