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Is Coma on Channel 5 based on a true story and where was it filmed?

 Cast of Channel 5's Coma, including Jason Watkins.
Cast of Channel 5's Coma, including Jason Watkins.

Is Coma based on a true story and where was it filmed? The Channel 5 drama is thought-provoking and you might be asking yourself some burning questions.

One decision can change everything and the consequences can be far more devastating than we could ever have imagined - at least that’s what Channel 5's new thriller gets us to consider. Coma follows Simon as he’s pushed to the brink by circumstances beyond his control. Eventually, it all becomes too much when he has a confrontation with Jordan, the leader of a group of youths terrorising his local area. A punch from Simon changes their lives forever as Jordan is rushed to hospital and Simon traps himself in a web of lies, pretending to be an innocent bystander.

Thriller fans will know that it’s almost impossible to keep the truth buried, but when it comes to the events in Coma, you might be curious about whether they actually happened - and where. As you immerse yourself in the Channel 5 thriller this is all we know about whether Coma is based on a true story and where it was filmed.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Jason Watkins as Simon in Channel 5's Coma
Jason Watkins as Simon in Channel 5's Coma

Is Coma based on a true story?

Channel 5's new drama Coma isn’t based on a specific true story but that doesn’t mean that it won't resonate with plenty of people and it’s “loosely” inspired by a real experience the show’s creator and writer Ben Edwards once had. As reported by RadioTimes.com, Ben revealed ahead of the show’s release that this experience was “nothing as dramatic as what happens in Coma”.

"A few years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, I took her to a local playground, and it had been vandalised. There were broken beer bottles all over the slides and it made me furious, it really got to me,” he said. "That night I was watching TV and I heard a noise outside. I looked out of the window and a group of lads aged about 16-17 were smashing supermarket trollies into the wing mirrors of cars.”

Describing himself as an “utter coward”, Ben added that he “totally lost it” and went outside and “started yelling at them”, with them yelling back.

"The whole thing ended in what I can only describe as an undignified scuffle. Utterly pathetic. No one got hurt. They went away. I went back inside. My wife just said, 'What on earth were you thinking? Haven’t you ever watched the news?' and that was the moment of inspiration,” he shared.

Coma's lead star Jason Watkins, who you might recognise from a variety of other thrillers including The Secret and The Catch which aired last year, has also spoken about how his character Simon is dealing with issues that are rooted in the real world.

Claire Skinner as Beth in Coma
Claire Skinner as Beth in Coma

"I’m not saying there’s a crime epidemic but because of the cost of living crisis, crime is up," Jason said, reflecting upon the current social climate. "Those really petty little crimes – scratching your car, turning the bins over and little stuff, it's just really annoying, I think, and when you’re stressed from other things, those things get magnified."

In his opinion, this is "why we end up where we end up where Simon does", with his character finally reaching breaking point. In Coma, Simon and his wife Beth are consumed with a lot of anxiety. He’s concerned about finances after being made redundant and with mounting pressure when it comes to the mortgage. Rising crime rates in their area also mean he and Beth are determined to find somewhere safer to raise their daughter.

"You scratch the surface and they've had difficulty conceiving, they're slightly vulnerable in terms of money and, so, we’re on a slight knife edge," Jason explained.

Jason Watkins as Simon and Joe Barber as Jordan in Coma
Jason Watkins as Simon and Joe Barber as Jordan in Coma

These personal issues weigh heavily on Simon and ultimately lead to him making one, split-second decision that snowballs into a living nightmare. He snaps during a confrontation with local youth Jordan and punches him. When Jordan is rushed to hospital fighting for his life, Simon is left facing a difficult decision about whether to come clean about being responsible.

Ultimately, whilst Coma isn't an adaptation of a true story, the initial idea for the fictional plot was inspired by a real experience. There are also several aspects of the storyline which could be seen to reflect the current climate in terms of rising frustrations and anxiety and financial hardships.

Where was Coma filmed?

It might surprise fans to learn that the Coma TV series was filmed in Budapest, Hungary and not the UK, however this isn't unheard of in the thriller world, especially for Channel 5 shows. Channel 5's The Teacher was filmed in the Hungarian capital, as was Desperate Measures which aired last year. However, you'd be forgiven for believing that it had been filmed in the UK as British number plates are featured in the drama to help reinforce a sense of the events taking place here.

Jason Watkins as Simon in Coma
Jason Watkins as Simon in Coma

We know Coma isn't based on one true story and the filming locations aren't true to the setting either. The show's events take place in suburban England and Jason Watkins explained to What to Watch that he and his fellow cast members didn't actually get to see that much of Budapest because of the busy filming schedule.

He said, "It’s quite a small cast, and we got to know each other well because we filmed in Budapest. I didn't actually get to see a lot of the city, though, because we were shooting 12-hour days, six days a week. But I did go on the big Ferris wheel in the city centre. I don’t know why because I got vertigo, although I did manage to take some pictures up there for my kids!"

How can you watch Coma and how many episodes are there?

Coma is a four-part series and it's airing on consecutive nights at 9pm on Channel 5, concluding on Thursday 21st March. Episodes are also available to catch up on for free after broadcast via Channel 5's on-demand service, My5. As Paramount Plus co-commissioned the series we would expect a US release date to be announced for Coma at some point and it's likely it will land on Paramount Plus in the future.