Sunday Herald Life - - TV & RADIO -

‘AND you know that now, there’s no re­pair. No go­ing back.”

Eh? Who’s she talk­ing to now?

“What­ever fight you thought was im­por­tant, now looks so naive. What you thought had been the fight was merely the warn­ing. Your big­gest fear was noth­ing com­pared to this.”

Man, she’s re­ally lost it this time. What’s she on about? And why’s she talk­ing so weird? Speak up, Gemma, I can’t hear you above the weep­ing string quar­tet.

“The weeks go past and peo­ple say it will get bet­ter. But it doesn’t.”

Come on, it wasn’t all bad. Not a patch on Se­ries One, true. But the bit with the vi­bra­tor was funny.

“You do ev­ery­thing any­one could and some­how you know it’s done. It’s hap­pened, too late. You go over the past, what you did, what you said, again and again and again – what should you have done?” Wait, hang on: who’s this “You” she keeps bang­ing on about? Is she talk­ing to me? “Did you get it wrong from the start? You’ll never stop go­ing over it...” Ac­tu­ally, I reckon I stopped go­ing over it around the time you said, “Now, there’s no re­pair.” But maybe I did get it wrong from the start. Like many, I’d been en­joy­ing the sec­ond se­ries of the BBC’s smash hit knock­about loopy rom­com, Doc­tor Foster. But the fun has been spoiled some­what by the dawn­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that, ap­par­ently, I’ve been en­joy­ing it for the wrong rea­sons. Es­sen­tially, I’d re­garded the show as a canny up­dat­ing of Punch And Judy, in­clud­ing the an­noy­ing baby, ex­cept, in this telling, Punch had lost his stick, and Judy was the one mak­ing merry with her club. As such, I was view­ing in much the spirit Charles Dick­ens was when he wrote about the pup­pet shows of his day: “One of those ex­trav­a­gant re­liefs from the re­al­i­ties of life, which would lose its hold upon the peo­ple if it were made moral and in­struc­tive.”

Turns out, though, that while I thought I was watch­ing Su­ranne Jones Goes To­tally Ape Berserk, writer Mike Bartlett thought he was in­deed craft­ing some morally in­struc­tive tract. Sadly, the same pom­pos­ity grad­u­ally in­fected Jones’s per­for­mance. By the end, she was glid­ing through like Celia John­son play­ing a woman with bad toothache, try­ing ter­ri­bly, ter­ri­bly hard not to let any­one know about it.

This cul­mi­nated in one of the worst clos­ing se­quences in liv­ing mem­ory, as Jones “broke the fourth wall”, and started speak­ing non­sense straight at the viewer, as if she’d started do­ing a life in­sur­ance ad­vert by mis­take. By the end, with Jones stand­ing at her nice front door look­ing di­rectly into the cam­era, I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing flash­backs to the dark years when Ted Moult kept try­ing to sell me dou­ble glaz­ing. The BBC kindly of­fered a helpline num­ber as the cred­its rolled, but I don’t think this was the kind of trauma they had in mind.

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