The newest installment of the BBC’s Original British Drama, Doctor Foster stars Suranne Jones as Doctor Gemma Foster (and yes, the nursery rhyme does pop up), a successful GP living a comfortable suburban life in a beautiful home with a seemingly doting husband, played by Bertie Carvell. But Dr Foster’s cosy life is thrown into disarray when her instincts tell her there’s more to a long blonde hair and a chapstick than a logical explanation.
As the story unfolds it follows the suit of other affair-based dramas that have come before it (Joanne Froggatt’s episode of The Secrets springs to mind), as we begin to question whether Gemma is simply paranoid and her mind is playing tricks. She doesn’t relent, and becomes her own private detective, searching through his office and following him after work, only to find he is visiting his mother in her care home. But nothing gets past Dr Foster, and she checks the visitor’s books only to find he’s been lying and hasn’t visited in months. That evening, the Fosters have dinner at a new restaurant in town which Susanne Parks (Sara Stewart), an overly grateful patient of Gemma’s, has invited them to. Oddly, husband Simon appears to know the Parks family rather well, despite never mentioning them to his wife, and Susanne’s overzealous thanks at the surgery, combined with her touchy-feely attitude towards Simon set alarm bells ringing.
With suspicion rising, Gemma employs the services of Carly, one of her patients, as an assistant.
Upon discovering Carly requires the sleeping pills to sleep through her boyfriend’s alcohol fueled vicious attacks the newly instated Inspector Foster takes matters into her own hands, rather than calling the police. In another bizarre twist, Gemma – fueled by her anger as a newly wronged woman – threatens Carly’s boyfriend with the promise of doctored (pun intended) medical records set to destroy his career, and even manages to overcome his violence using a fag as her weapon of choice.
Aside from these unrealistic scenes, Doctor Foster has everything a drama needs: lies, secrets, deception, and it really does pick up towards the end of the episode. Simon’s car boot reveals he’s definitely got a secret life, with a different wallet and phone stashed. Loaded on the phone are photos of Simon with Kate – the Parks’s daughter – whom we briefly met in the restaurant, plus photos of the Fosters’ friends Neil and Anna. Gemma also discovers messages from her colleague Ros warning Simon that she followed him, and plenty of texts from Kate. So, Simon has a secret life that not only he has kept hidden from his wife, but her so-called friends have too.
It has to be said Surrane Jones is superb, you real feel for her and as an audience member you’re always on on her side, no matter how nutty her behaviour gets. It’s also reassuring to know this has five hours to tell its story, bucking the frustrating latest trend for 3 episodes which instantly makes a story like ITV’s recent Sheridan Smith vehicle Black Work feel rushed and without much point. If the mystery we were treated to here can sustain itself for the remaining the episodes I’m sure this’ll be a drama we’ll be talking about as one of the best of the BBC’s recent offerings.
Doctor Foster Continues Wednesday at 9.00pm on BBC One.
Contributed by Amy Gibbs