Cheat begins with University lecturer Dr Leah Dale (Katherine Kelly – Doctor Who spin-off Class) and final year student Rose (Molly Windsor – Three Girls) on opposite sites of a prison cell window, before we go back to the start of this four-parter, stripped across all of this week, as we find out how things got to that point.
Leah’s meant to be trying for a baby with hubby Adam (Tom Goodman-Hill), whilst also having the hots for colleague Stephan (Parker Sawyers), but she thinks student Rose is copying her work off others who are far better than her, whilst not owning up to it. I won’t give any spoilers, but it’s safe to say that by the time we got to ‘End of Part 1’ in the first episode, it looked like it was heading in the direction of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and I thought – I do hope not. Yes, that was a great film, but I don’t want a straight forward copy, 27 years later.
What was also a great ’90s thriller was Basic Instinct, and composer Edmund Butt must’ve been re-watching that beforehand as the soundtrack throws in a ton of ‘alternating notes, then change in pitch for more notes, and then back again, and repeat’ just like the Sharon Stone movie, similarly also throwing in some deep bass humming to punctuate the scene. And then we get the old trope of a mysterious knock on the door.
Hmm… for a drama that’s about plagiarising someone else’s work, and how it’s a bad thing, it’s not just those ON-screen who could be a suspect(!)
The two leads are decent actresses, and they make the best of it, but the whole thing is so lazy, right down to how the character of Adam just can’t even begin to twig what’s going on. Okay… if I take a deep breath and assume I shouldn’t take this too seriously, I might just enjoy it more, and in a cheesy way, but I was expecting strong drama, and that’s not what’s being served up.
UPDATE Episode 2 started turning into a dumb soap opera. And who at Uni has their name on a plaque on their dorm-room door? I know they had to get across that we were in Rose’s dorm room, but it did jump the shark a bit. However, the soap opera dumbness continued with everyone texting on their phones, and the words coming up onscreen, rather like an episode of Hollyoaks. Can things improve with episode 3?
UPDATE Episode 3 saw us getting some info about why Rose is targetting Leah, but what is it? Well, watch the episode! All I’ll say is that at least it gave me a reason to continue with this.
There was also a vertiginous scene (and you’ll know it when you see it), and while I know it won’t be for real, not least for health and safety reasons, it was well done enough to make my heart climb into my mouth.
However, at one point, one character comes out with, “What’s going on?” Hmm… I’m starting to wonder that myself, and when a particular revelation came, I burst out laughing with incredulity!
Again, non-spoilery, there’s a moment when Rose is making a call from her mobile while walking across a bridge, and looking out over the side of a bridge. Maybe it’s because I’m getting to a certain age, but the LAST thing I do is have my phone close to the side of a bridge, especially in terms of holding it in just one hand. The EASE at which it could just slip out of your hand and into the water… so I’d keep it in two hands, and I always talk into my phone while it’s on speaker, anyway, as it’s a 6″ smartphone and way too big to hold up to my ear.
UPDATE Episode 4: What can I say about the finale? It’s approximately 44 minutes long (plus adverts), it has closing credits and it’s all crazy twisty-turny and very daft, and I did have to rewind some bits as I was losing track at times.
However, the only great thing in all of this is Molly Windsor who is superb as the decidedly-mad Rose. Hollywood should snap her up!
Cheat begins tonight on ITV at 9pm and continues on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. After each episode is broadcast, they’ll be on the ITV Hub.
Episode 1: 4/10
Episode 2: 3/10
Episode 3: 4/10
Episode 4: 4/10
Director: Louise Hooper
Producer: Lydia Hampson
Executive Producers: Christopher Aird, Harry Williams, Jack Williams
Writer: Gaby Hull
Music: Edmund Butt
Leah: Katherine Kelly
Rose: Molly Windsor
Adam: Tom Goodman-Hill
Angela: Lorraine Ashbourne
Michael: Peter Firth
Stephan: Parker Sawyers
Sandra: Joanna Brookes
Amy: Lara Rossi
Ben: Burn Gorman
DI Bould: Justine Mitchell
DI Hammond: Jimmy Akingbola
William: Adrian Edmondson
Doctor: Philip Bird
Ellie: Aoife Hinds
Karen: Kemi-Bo Jacobs
Brian: Ravin J Ganatra
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.