‘Do you watch Dr Foster?’ my dentist asked me just before she gave me an injection of Novocaine and drilled unforgivingly into my head. ‘I’ve heard it was a bit rubbish.’ I replied. ‘Well, there are a few unlikely scenarios, but sometimes you don’t want to think too hard when you’re watching telly, do you?’
You certainly don’t. Thinking is the very worst thing you can do when you’re watching dramas with Suranne Jones in them. So, to me, this was as good a recommendation as any. With a numb face and an aching jaw, I settled down to binge watch this Daily Mail middle-aged lady potboiler, which is being frantically talked about by all women over the age of 35. I tell you, the ladies at the school gates were all over this shit like a Cath Kidston sale.
Anyway, it turned out my dentist was right - thinking definitely wasn’t required. It was about a GP called Gemma Foster whose husband was having an affair. Also, it was set in a small town which looked suspiciously like Gloucester. (Or it could have been Hereford.)
This kind of logic led me to think that Dr Foster - as the nursery rhyme goes - was going to end up in a puddle right up to her middle, but it turned out she and her husband, Simon, who looked like a fuzzy photofit of Giles Coren, were already in deep shit. Simon seemed like an all-round nice guy who might be found buying a Fairtrade coffee from the back of a customised tuk tuk at Bestival. He had a beard and a friendly underbite. He was a Good Dad. However, he was a total bastard, at it with a 23 year old blonde. Also, he owned his own property development company, which everyone knows is dramatic shorthand for ‘cunt.’
Dr Foster first suspected he was having an affair because she found a blonde hair on his scarf. All other women in the world would suspect that their husband - who perhaps works with humans, some of whom have hair - might have picked this up from the back of a chair or something. Luckily for the plot, though, she found other evidence to back up his guilt.
At Simon’s 40th birthday BBQ, she searched his car and found a secret phone with a picture of him and the 23 year old on it, and a gold foiled packet of condoms. She may as well have walked in on them doing it angry style on a sex swing. Or perhaps unfurled a banner with ‘YES I AM HAVING AN AFFAIR’ written on it in crayon.
Things carried on in a frankly fucking ludicrous vein, while stretching the boundaries of medical credulity more than Carry On Matron. Dr Foster did lots of diagnoses in the car park, took half days to investigate her partner’s indiscretions, and her colleagues ignored their overstretched clinics to have emergency meetings about her love life. Her only real patient was a bespectacled Penfold-esque hypochondriac, whom she was always sympathetic to. This showed she was a brilliant doctor. She WAS a brilliant doctor, you know. She didn’t quite have a t-shirt with ‘I’m a brilliant doctor’ on it, but nearly.
There were also varyingly treacherous and ludicrous subplots involving domestic violence, alcoholism and property development. People said exposition-tastic things like: ‘I’m a 37 year old woman who is good at my job’ and ‘Mum, Dad’s more fun than you, you’re always working.’ It was great. My favourite bit was when - at the end of her tether with her husband’s lies - Dr Foster stood up at a dinner party and shouted: ‘I’m a WOLF TONIGHT!’ and amazingly, nobody laughed. Maybe she was thinking of that other acclaimed BBC drama, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Anyway, things came ludicrously to a head, with Dr Foster engaging in lots of convoluted ways to make Simon feel bad, as she realised he’d got the 23 year old pregnant (but what about all those gold condoms??). The doc slept with everyone, did a lot of background wheeling and dealing, pretended to kidnap her irritating tween son who looked like he was wearing a wig, and created terribly awkward scenes in people’s kitchens. There were a lot of nice kitchens in Dr Foster. Everyone had a kitchen island and lovely downlighters and cooker hoods, and the women had glasses of chilled white wine in their hands at all times. At one point, I thought it was just a rather dramatic advert for Magnet.
Still, I loved every stupid minute of it. Even though Dr Foster was a ludicrous middle-class potboiler masquerading as serious drama, it was Novocaine for the soul. Actually, it was exactly what the dentist ordered.