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What does Doctor Foster’s loneliness say about us?

PUBLISHED: 14:09 12 September 2017

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/09/2017 - Programme Name: Doctor Foster series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows:  Gemma (SURANNE JONES) - (C) Drama Republic - Photographer: Nick Briggs

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/09/2017 - Programme Name: Doctor Foster series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Gemma (SURANNE JONES) - (C) Drama Republic - Photographer: Nick Briggs

WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture Service (BBC Pictures) as set out at www.bbcpictures.co.uk. In particular, this image may only be published by a registered User of BBC Pictures for editorial use for the purpose of publicising the relevant BBC programme, personnel or activity during the Publicity Period which ends three review weeks following the date of transmission and provided the BBC and the copyright holder in the caption are credited. For any other purpose whatsoever, including advertising and commercial, prior written approval from the copyright holder will be required.

BBC 1’s Doctor Foster is gripping drama. But it seems to be saying that a broken heart makes you a pariah. That can’t be right, surely?

I’m a big fan of Doctor Foster, the gripping drama about an imploding marriage which is on BBC One again tonight

9pm). Although the show is clearly designed to shock, it is also pretty realistic about the ugliness that can lie below the surface of any relationship if the dials get turned even a tiny bit too far the wrong way.

Suranne Jones is fantastic at showing both longing, despair and loathing all in one look, while Bertie Carvel who plays her ex-husband Simon, has turned being smug and annoying, in the way that only those who truly know you can pull off, into art.

There are two things that really bother me about the programme however. The first is that it seems to take a little too much pleasure in showing a brilliant career woman brought low by her feelings for a man.

Dr Gemma Foster is clever, capable, running her own surgery, a qualified GP for heaven’s sake, yet as soon as her ex hoves into view, she becomes a quivering puddle. I can’t help but feel that the man who has written this (take a bow, Mike Bartlett,) is having a bit too much fun at her expense; sending the message that a woman running the show in the workplace is all very well, but a man can still bring her to nothing if he wants!

And another thing! What has Dr Foster done to deserve such utterly feckless friends, all of whom see nothing wrong in turning up at a party to welcome home the ex and his new wife, completely forgetting that at the end of the last series, said ex gave Dr Foster a pretty hefty clout?

I’m not going to claim that female friendship isn’t competitive and maybe some women do get a buzz from feeling they have a better marriage than their friends. But suspension of disbelief doesn’t half slip when you realise that Dr Foster doesn’t have a single decent mate who will take her side no matter what. Of course we all need our friends to tell us to get our act together at times but Dr Foster’s aren’t even doing that. Their level of disloyalty is ludicrous.

The show worked so well last time because we all know how close we are to the edge when it comes to matters of the heart.

But the loneliness of Dr Foster suggests that her broken heart has made her a pariah. Is this what we do as a society when people are lost and needing help? Ah, yes. Bearing in mind current provision on mental health, perhaps this show isn’t quite so unrealistic after all?

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