Deb­o­rah Ross ‘It’s a bit late for “Sorry” Dr Foster...’

And can’t Dr F buy a new bra?

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - CONTENTS - Deb­o­rah Ross

Good­bye then, Doc­tor Foster, and what a way to go! I’m kid­ding. Bit of a whim­per, the end­ing but, fair play, you have kept us gripped all these weeks, with your one bra – is there no M&S in Parmin­ster? – and ob­ses­sional de­sire to de­stroy Si­mon, engi­neer­ing sex with him just so you could say to Kate, ‘Look. He’s do­ing to you what he did to me. With me!’ Kate has since fled to France with their lit­tle daugh­ter, Amelie. True, she must be ill ac­quainted with Bri­tish child ab­duc­tion laws, but she did pack a huge house into a small­ish re­moval van overnight, so she’s not en­tirely with­out tal­ent. You must give her that, surely.

Last week, we left you just as you were about to run Si­mon over. Maybe. You were in your car as he was walk­ing to the ho­tel to see Tom. He was hop­ing he’d make it there first, which al­ways seemed un­likely, but per­haps he is some kind of speed-walk­ing cham­pion and we were just never told? You revved the en­gine. You had that ‘wolf-bitch’ look in your eye. But at the very last minute you swerved to avoid him. You breathed again. We could all breathe again. We knew that if you did kill him, your life would be ru­ined, over. We al­ways some­how stayed on your side, even though, as Si­mon told you: ‘We are the same.’ My ed­i­tor here refers to you as ‘Dr Whack Job’, as in: ‘Are you do­ing Dr Whack Job this week?’ and I con­fess, I went along with it. ‘Yes, I’m go­ing to be all over Dr Whack Job like you wouldn’t be­lieve.’ But this, we now know, is plain wrong.

The writer, Mike Bartlett, has said that it’s ‘sex­ist’ to write you o as ‘mad’, as a man be­hav­ing in the same way would sim­ply be deemed ‘very an­gry’. And he has a point. If a man, say, ab­ducted his own son, then pre­tended the son was dead, stalked the son’s friends, popped up from the un­der­growth to spy on his ex, had sex with his ex so he could weaponise that, had sex with his friend’s spouse for the pur­poses of black­mail and so on and so on, I guess you would just shrug and say: ‘Oh well, that’s men for you. Noth­ing to see here. Move on.’ So we get that now. We do. Sorry, Dr F. Our bad.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. You made it to the ho­tel first, per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, and took Tom back to Parmin­ster, where new peo­ple have moved in op­po­site so we must say bye, too, to loom­ing Anna of the bal­loon wine glasses. Lucy lives there now, and she does not look like a bal­loon loomer, dis­ap­point­ingly. You promised Tom a new kitchen, which is just what ev­ery 15-year-old boy needs af­ter the hor­rific trau­mas he has ex­pe­ri­enced.

Then Si­mon turned up, hav­ing speed-walked from the ho­tel, and you all had a set-to in the drive. ‘You’re us­ing me against her,’ Tom told him, sob­bingly. Then you had another set-to out­side a Chi­nese restau­rant. Then Tom left in the mid­dle of the night and you found him on the bank of a dual car­riage­way, watch­ing Si­mon down below, who was about to throw him­self un­der a car. It was heart-stop­ping. Si­mon stepped out. Cars veered. You pulled him back. He grabbed you. Was he about to throw you un­der a car? I pulled my jumper right up over my face. Mostly, all I could see, look­ing down, was my own bra, of which I have a good se­lec­tion.

Next thing I knew, you’d talked Si­mon out of it – you’d thought of a bet­ter way for him to kill him­self! – and brought him to the ho­tel, where you forced a Premier Inn-style full English on him, as if he hadn’t been through enough. You laid out lethal drugs for him in the ho­tel room, and again, my jumper was over my head as he made to plunge the sy­ringe into his arm, but you un­der­went a change of mind and came back to stop him.

Don’t do this to Tom, you said. Not now he has a new kitchen to look for­ward to, you could have added, just to rub it in, but you were un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally ret­i­cent here.

Then you re­turned to your car and Tom was gone, hav­ing left you a mes­sage say­ing he was leav­ing, and never com­ing back. The nar­ra­tive then slipped, some­what lazily, into mon­tage: the po­lice; the Miss­ing Per­son posters go­ing up, you re­turn­ing to work. Re­ally? Given your un­con­trol­lable per­sis­tence, wouldn’t you now be on Search­ing Leave, just as pre­vi­ously you were on Stalk­ing Leave? Quite hard to buy, that.

And lastly it was you, speak­ing to cam­era from your doorstep. ‘In the end, all I can say is that I’m here, Tom. I’m your mum. I’m sorry.’ Bit late for that, Dr F, but we thank you for the past five weeks, and for be­ing so ‘very an­gry’, and if there’s not an M&S in Parmin­ster, maybe there’s one in the next near­est town?

COVER: RICKY GER­VAIS PHO­TOGRAPHED BY JEROME BON­NET

Su­ranne Jones and Ber­tie Carvel in Doc­tor Foster

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