And wouldn’t you know it – the first episode played out 100% predictably! Seriously, BBC, when you saw the script for this, why the hell did you bother?!!
Pointlessly playing on the nursery rhyme “Doctor Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain”, there’s none of that here but the amount of effort put in by all concerned is on a par with the paraphernalia of such a contrivance.
GP Practice Manager Gemma Foster (Suranne Jones) suspects her husband is having an affair, simply based on a blonde hair she finds on her coat – WHICH COULD COME FROM ANYONE!!! She also gets paranoid that he’s banging his assistant because a conversation with that lady led to the information that she locks up the office at 5pm, yet hubby Simon (Coaliation and Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell‘s Bertie Carvel) has always told her he’s always working till 7.30, so what’s he doing during the time inbetween?
So several years of happy marriage gives way to instant paranoia and she follows him from work to find him spending the time with his sick, wheelchair-bound mother in her nursing home. Ah, so all’s well that ends well. Series over, yes? But, say whaaaaaaa! Wouldn’t you know it that he NEVER goes there beyond the day she followed him! And she knows this from the visitors book where everyone must sign in and out. And if you fail to adhere to this practice then you’ll be thrown into the tower and clapped in irons, having to listen to the Queen bang on about how she’s the longest reigning monarch in the UK.
She then breaks into his workplace (which is curiously empty AND open to the public!) and wanders round, trying to gather evidence that he’s been up to no good. And this includes some condoms in his office in a bag… BUT, it’s not his bag, it’s his assistant’s. D’oh! Oh, it’s as contrived as a generic soap opera, as the protagonist thinks one thing but it’s actually something completely different. How much more of this will happen, I wonder? Plenty.
The creators of this probably thought it was brimming with possibility when, in actual fact, it’s just brimming with mediocrity…. and then it just gets stupid.
While out and about, she lets slip to patient Carly (Clare-Hope Ashitey), While out and about, about her suspicions for her husband’s infidelity – in exactly the way that you wouldn’t normally. In fact, she even gets Carly to spy on hubby, bribing her with the sleeping pills she was moaning about not having originally. WTF?!
And to doubly return the favour, Gemma finds out Carly has a boyfriend who’s beating her up, so decides to play vigilante. This is wholly ridiculous as she could easily be struck off for this, threatening to reveal all his medical records to the world, as well as altering them sound worse than they are. WTF?! multiplied by WTF?!
Towards the end, she starts behaving as if she’s Denzel Washington as Alonzo Harris in Training Day when he entered the drug den. And also as Joe Hallenbeck, Bruce Willis’ care-free violence-dishing-out but family-guy-at-heart ne’er-do-well in The Last Boy Scout, but this was not directed by Tony Scott and there’s no Moody River playing over the end credits.
In Doctor Foster, we’re supposed to care that this cliched character is having such a terrible life when she lives in a huge house in a quaint country village with property developer husband Simon, she dresses posh, she has dinner parties. However, this is just moronic in the extreme for a prime-time drama. She’s also the only doctor I know who buggers off from work part-way through the day because she feels like it.
And wouldn’t you know it, he’s having a dalliance with Susan Parks, friend of the family and, since she’s played by Sara Stewart, she’s Batman’s mum in Batman Begins! ….or is she? Well, no. That’s another plot-by-numbers device, since late on she finds out the REAL truth by snooping around in his car and digging out his mobile phone, even though any bloke having it away would keep it about his person. Turns out it wasn’t Sarah, but her daughter, Kate (Lady Chatterley’s Lover‘s Jodie Comer).
A few other irritations:
- Early on, Suranne is shown using a hands-free mobile phone in her car. I know these are legal in that form, but I still hate their use as they take a driver’s concentration from the road. No conversation is that urgent.
- Gemma and hubby have sex where we get to see Bertie’s behind, but none of Suranne’s sugarlumps!
- And like The Interceptor, Cucumber and some occasional one-off dramas, Doctor Foster was shot in a 2.35:1 widescreen ratio which suits movies but doesn’t really work for TV shows.
Next time: Gemma chucks out hubby’s stuff and is about to confront him…. A nation fails to care.
Doctor Foster will be released on DVD in due course, but it’s not yet available for pre-order. You can watch episode one on BBC iPlayer until October 9th.
Director: Tom Vaughan and Bruce Goodison
Producer: Grainne Marmion
Screenplay: Mike Bartlett
Music: Frans Bak
Gemma Foster: Suranne Jones
Simon Foster: Bertie Carvel
Carly: Clare-Hope Ashitey
Jack Reynolda: Robert Pugh
Ros Ghadami: Thusitha Jayasundera
Kate Parks: Jodie Comer
Susie Parks: Sara Stewart
Chris Parks: Neil Stuke
Andrew Parks: Charlie Cunniffe
Helen Foster: Cheryl Campbell
Kiki Farren: Isabelle Estelle Corbusier
Daniel Spencer: Ricky Nixon
Anwar: Navin Chowdhry
Driver: Paul Blackwell
Luke Barton: Cian Barry
Gordon Ward: Daniel Cerqueira
Nick Stanford: Peter De Jersey
Anna: Victoria Hamilton
Becky: Martha Howe-Douglas
Neil: Adam James
Patient: Matthew David McCarthy
Nurse: Charlotte McKinney
Julie: Shazia Nicholls
Isobel: Megan Roberts
Tom Foster: Tom Taylor
Poppy: Tyla Wilson
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.