‘It feels local, but the situation is universal and that elevates it for global audiences’

Distributor Paramount Global Content Distribution
Producers Roughcut Television; CBS Studios
Length 4 x 60 minutes
Broadcaster Channel 5 (UK)

“What would you do?” is an irresistible hook for a thriller writer, and Coma wastes no time in plunging audiences right into the heart of a moral dilemma.

Fresh from his lead role in Channel 5’s 2023 drama The Catch, Jason Watkins heads up the broadcaster’s latest four-parter as Simon, a family man whose life spins out of control after a fateful split-second decision inadvertently puts his teenage tormentor Jordan into a coma.

The police hail Simon as a hero when they find him performing CPR on Jordan. However, Jordan’s father Paul is out for revenge – and Simon’s family life is about to fall apart.

“Everyone is looking for propulsive drama – I binged it one go,” says Paramount Global Content Distribution president of international content licensing Lisa Kramer.

She says Coma will be attractive to both linear schedulers looking for a stripped water-cooler series and streamers wanting a moreish, pacey suburban thriller.

“It was created for a commercial broadcaster and has very broad appeal,” she says. “Some drama does not naturally play across the two platforms, but this could because it’s so compelling.

“It’s British through and through in terms of the pacing. It feels local, but the situation he’s going through is universal and that elevates it for global audiences.”

While Watkins is better known in the UK for his turns in ITV dramas Des and The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies, as well as BBC2 comedy W1A, Coma is elevated internationally by the presence of David Bradley – familiar to audiences worldwide for Broadchurch, Game Of Thrones and the Harry Potter films – who is in typically grouchy form as Simon’s neighbour.

Meanwhile, Jonas Armstrong (Edge Of Tomorrow; The Bay) paints vengeful father Paul in shades of grey.

Behind-the-scenes talent includes writer Ben Edwards (Miss Scarlett And The Duke) and director Michael Samuels (The Man In The Orange Shirt). Kramer has high hopes for the series in Australia and the Nordics, where Paramount Global Content Distribution recently sold The Flatshare, a UK original for Paramount+.

Coma also marks a shift into 60-minute drama for Roughcut TV, which has hitherto been best known for comedies such as Sky’s Smothered and Channel 4’s Big Boys and Stath Lets Flats.

Kramer admits there aren’t many laughs in this dark tale, but says she believes the “emotional moral dilemma” is universal, aided by a script that carefully balances character and twisty action.

It also represents a mid-point between C5’s lower-stakes domestic dramas and the glossier British co-productions in Paramount’s stable, such as Sexy Beast with James McArdle and Emun Elliot, and A Gentleman In Moscow, starring Ewan McGregor.

With CBS Studios as co-producer, Coma is, Kramer says, “our first truly homegrown British show for a commercial broadcaster that we’re bringing to market – and I hope it paves the way for more”.