From lip balm and a stray hair
They don’t come more compelling than Doctor Foster, which aired last year in Britain with more than eight million viewers tuning in for the finale. Written by acclaimed British playwright Mike Bartlett, the series was the most watched BBC show during the year (aside from Call the Midwife), and the nation’s favourite tearoom discussion topic. It appeared here too on BBC First and has been repeated several times, attracting new viewers with each screening.
Award-winning Bartlett is possibly now the most in-demand writer working in Britain, and Doctor Foster, a kind of revenge drama, is written with both wit and dynamic momentum, echoing the great Jacobean plays like Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi and Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy. But if its underpinnings are literary, its overriding style is that of what could be called pleasurable high melodrama of domestic suspense — if somewhat unsettling for anyone who has been through some version of these events.
Gemma Foster (Suranne Jones) is a GP and practice manager who moved with her rather knockabout husband Simon (Bertie Carvel) to his home town of Parminster after meeting him in London 14 years earlier. She seemingly has the perfect village life but when she discovers strawberry lip balm in his trousers pocket and a long blond hair, it all falls apart. Is he having an affair and, if he is, which of their blonde friends is the other guilty party? It isn’t long before, a little unhinged, and breaking several serious professional protocols, that she encounters Congreve’s drama The Mourning Bride and that fateful quotation: “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” Thursday, 8.30pm, ABC.
Suranne Jones as Gemma Foster, a GP whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down