Lives slowly unravel in devastating fashion as One Night reveals the connection between four ordinary people.THE butterfly effect, it turns out, has its own body count. The smallest decision, however inconsequential it might seem, can result in someone ending up dead on the concrete of a bleak London housing estate.

Each of the four episodes of this reasonably gritty new BBC drama focuses on a single character’s experience and interpretations of the events that lead to the mysterious tragedy. (The identity of the deceased won’t be revealed until later.)

Tonight’s first instalment begins with a 13-year-old boy turning in a handgun at a police station and then keeping his mouth shut as the coppers try to interrogate him about the shooting at the centre of everything.

After that, it’s all about Ted (Douglas Hodge), a kitchen salesman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It seems he’s just had a deal fall through, he thinks he’s going to lose his job, his boss is coming for dinner and he’s struggled home with the groceries only to realise he’s forgotten the charcoal for the barbecue. To top it all off, a group of sassy girls from the estate drops a chip packet outside his tidy little middle-class terrace. When he tells them to put it in the bin, they give him an earful.

It’s about this time that Ted should give up, go inside and help his wife (Saskia Reeves) with dinner. But he’s had it with the girls being ”all earrings and attitude”, so he drives to their school to complain. This results in Rochelle (Georgina Campbell) being unfairly suspended and brings immediate retaliation in the form of a used condom being pushed through the mail slot in Ted’s front door.

Through all this, Hodge plays Ted as a believably sweaty, strung-out and put-upon white-collar drudge, sympathetic if not altogether endearing. But things are about to take a sudden lurch into Falling Down territory.

While Ted and Sally are trying to entertain their guests (Neil Stuke and Kellie Bright), a rock comes through the kitchen window and Ted loses it completely. He runs out into the street, collars a black lad, kicks the stuffing out of him and then locks him in the garden shed.

It’s a scene likely to leave viewers as agape as it does Ted’s dinner guests, but hopefully they won’t tune out. The kid is soon released and Ted realises that pretty much everything is his own fault. Having decided to try to make amends, he walks onto the estate and into this episode’s cliffhanger – is he the one who gets shot?

Series creator Paul Smith is intent on moving further from his background in comedy into drama. Tonight’s episode might seem a little closer to melodrama at times, but it would be hard to write Ted a perfectly calm meltdown.

The next episode, which focuses on Rochelle, is more satisfying.

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