From lip balm and a stray hair

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - Doc­tor Fos­ter,

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

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