|Written by||Mike Bartlett|
|Opening theme||"Fly" by Ludovico Einaudi|
|Country of origin|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company||Drama Republic|
|Picture format||21:9 1080i|
|Original release||9 September 2015 –|
3 October 2017
Doctor Foster is a BBC One television drama series that was first broadcast on 9 September 2015. Created and written by Mike Bartlett, the series is about Gemma Foster (Suranne Jones), a doctor who suspects her husband Simon (Bertie Carvel) is having an affair. After she follows several lines of enquiry, her life unravels from what secrets she finds. The storyline was inspired by the ancient Greek myth of Medea, a wronged wife who kills her children and poisons her husband's new bride. Internationally, the series was brought to many countries by different networks (see Broadcast).
The second series of the show started on 5 September 2017 and concluded on 3 October 2017. A future third series has been played down by lead actress Jones, citing incompatibility of schedules. Bartlett has said while there is more to explore with Gemma Foster's story, he would bring the show back only if there were a vital story to be told, with no immediate plans for a return. He did, however, write a spin-off, Life, featuring the character of Anna Baker from the first two series.
- Suranne Jones as Gemma Foster, a 37-year-old general practitioner in the town of "Parminster", who begins to suspect her husband, Simon, is having an affair
- Bertie Carvel as Simon Foster, a 40-year-old property developer and Gemma's husband
- Clare-Hope Ashitey as Carly Williams, a patient of Gemma's, who helps support Gemma, due to her suspicions of Simon
- Cheryl Campbell as Helen Foster (episodes 1-3)
- Jodie Comer as Kate Parks, a 23-year-old University student who has been secretly having a two-year affair with Simon Foster
- Navin Chowdhry as Anwar (episodes 2–3, 5)
- Victoria Hamilton as Anna Baker (episodes 1–3, 5)
- Tom Taylor as Tom Foster, Gemma and Simon's 13-year-old son
- Martha Howe-Douglas as Becky Hughes
- Adam James as Neil Baker (episodes 1–3, 5)
- Thusitha Jayasundera as Ros Mahendra
- Sara Stewart as Susie Parks (episodes 1–2, 4-5)
- Neil Stuke as Chris Parks (episodes 1–2, 4-5)
- Robert Pugh as Jack Reynolds (episodes 1–2, 4)
- Ricky Nixon as Daniel Spencer (episodes 1,4)
- Daniel Cerqueira as Gordon Ward, a hypochondriac who regularly visits Gemma at the medical practice
- Megan Roberts as Isobel, a friend of Tom's
- Suranne Jones as Gemma Foster
- Bertie Carvel as Simon Foster
- Tom Taylor as Tom Foster
- Jodie Comer as Kate Parks (episodes 1-4)
- Victoria Hamilton as Anna Baker (episodes 1-4)
- Adam James as Neil Baker (episodes 1-3)
- Prasanna Puwanarajah as James, Gemma's new love interest (episodes 1–3, 5)
- Sian Brooke as Siân Lambert, a new Doctor at Gemma's surgery with mysterious links to Simon (episodes 1–2, 4-5)
- Hope Lloyd as Isobel (episodes 1, 3)
- Frank Kauer as Max, Tom's best friend (episodes 1-3)
- Thusitha Jayasundera as Ros Mahendra (episodes 1–3, 5)
- Joanie Kent as Amelie Foster, Simon and Kate's daughter (episodes 1-4)
- Daniel Cerqueira as Gordon Ward (episodes 1-2)
- Helena Lymbery as Mrs Walters, Tom's headteacher (episodes 2-3)
- Martha Howe-Douglas as Becky Hughes (episode 1)
- Sara Stewart as Susie Parks (episodes 1, 4)
- Neil Stuke as Chris Parks (episodes 1, 4)
- Clare-Hope Ashitey as Carly Williams (episode 4)
- Philip Wright as Connor, Ros' fiancée and then husband (episodes 1, 3, 5)
|Series||Episodes||Originally aired||Average viewers|
|Series premiere||Series finale|
|1||5||9 September 2015||7 October 2015||9.51|
|2||5||5 September 2017||3 October 2017||10.20|
Series 1 (2015)
|1||"Episode 1"||Tom Vaughan||Mike Bartlett||9 September 2015||9.19|
|Gemma Foster, a doctor at the Parminster Medical Centre, is happily married to property developer Simon, with whom she has a young son, Tom. One day, she finds a blonde hair on Simon's scarf and suspects him of infidelity, possibly with his assistant Becky. Rather than confront him, she confides in her colleague Ros. At work, she forces elderly doctor Jack Reynolds, who has become an alcoholic, to retire. She does a deal with a young patient, Carly, to give her sleeping pills and get rid of her abusive partner by threatening him and demanding he move out - in return for the patient following Simon.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Tom Vaughan||Mike Bartlett||16 September 2015||9.19|
|Gemma has discovered that Simon's mistress is Kate Parks, the daughter of one of her patients and that Ros knew of the affair but was bound by patient confidentiality rules. She also establishes that Kate is now pregnant. At a bar, Gemma meets another patient, Anwar, a married lawyer who is keeping the fact that he might have a brain tumour from his family. Encouraged by Jack Reynolds, whom she has reconciled with and talked out of suicide, Gemma confronts Simon but he denies having an affair. But his ailing mother Helen, whose own husband cheated on her, tells Gemma the affair has been going on for two years, and not three months as he had told Ros. Gemma makes an appointment with Anwar, who specialises in divorce.|
|3||"Episode 3"||Tom Vaughan||Mike Bartlett||23 September 2015||9.26|
|On Anwar's advice, Gemma acts towards Simon as if everything is normal, while investigating his love life and financial affairs through other people. She gets Carly to befriend Kate, and sleeps with then blackmails Simon's accountant Neil. Neil reveals that Simon's big project, the re-development of a school, is a financial black hole and that their joint savings and home would be gone if it were not for a mysterious investor bailing him out. Simon's mother, who had been terminally ill and in pain, ends her life. Gemma decides against divorce because of Simon's distress and vulnerability.|
|4||"Episode 4"||Bruce Goodison||Mike Bartlett||30 September 2015||9.35|
|To Ros's surprise, Gemma stays with Simon, believing his affair is over after Kate had an abortion. However, her work life crumbles after negative comments about her get posted on the Internet, and the police suspect her of involvement in her mother-in-law's death. Carly's boyfriend has also filed a complaint about her for threatening him earlier. Gemma has a breakdown after discovering that Simon is seeing Kate again. She attempts suicide by drowning before finding new strength.|
|5||"Episode 5"||Bruce Goodison||Mike Bartlett||7 October 2015||10.57|
|Gemma contrives to embarrass Kate at an awkward dinner party with the woman's family - where she exposes Simon's infidelity and his financial chicanery. She also reveals that Kate's father, who knew nothing of the affair, is the mysterious investor in Simon's project despite a conflict of interest which makes his involvement unethical. She identifies the accountant Neil's wife as her mysterious online persecutor. When Simon refuses to leave their house and son, Gemma loses control, abducts the child, and returns alone and distressed.|
Series 2 (2017)
This section's plot summaries may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2017)
|1||"Episode 1"||Jeremy Lovering||Mike Bartlett||5 September 2017||10.40|
|Two years after the events of series one, Simon and Kate return to Parminster with their daughter and host a combined housewarming and wedding reception. Despite not being invited, Gemma brings a date, James, to the party and discovers he is Tom's teacher. Snooping around the house, Gemma finds a bedroom prepared for Tom, and has a confrontation with Simon in which he implies that he plans to force her out of town. Gemma gives a wedding gift to Kate and leaves with Tom, who seems to be in a state of distress for reasons related to his friend Isobel. After Simon tells him something which causes him to turn against his mother, Tom leaves Gemma's home to go and live with Simon and his new family. Having been unable to stop Simon from taking Tom, a distraught Gemma dissolves her wedding ring in acid and is seen preparing some medical items in her doctor's bag.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Jeremy Lovering||Mike Bartlett||12 September 2017||10.27|
|Early chess game strategy and counter-punches. After Tom's move to Simon's house, Gemma spies on him to find out why he has made a doctor's appointment with new colleague Siân. After several prickly office interactions and an awkward dinner, Gemma learns some details. At Gemma's instigation, Neil meets Simon in an attempt to discover the funding source for his expensive new home, but is lured into a one-night stand by one of Simon's colleagues ... which breaks the agreement Neil had with Anna to cease the one-night stands. Neil says Tom hates Gemma, knows everything and asks if there is anyone she doesn't trust. Gemma visits Tom's best friend, Max, and wanders over to Simon's new house, only to see Kate kissing a mysterious man. In a drunken state, she confesses her feelings for James at a rave, and encounters Simon outside, who takes a photo of her on his phone to use as leverage with Tom. Meanwhile, Gemma discovers that Simon has a connection to Siân from their university days, and he had suggested that she take the position in Gemma's surgery. After confronting Simon at his workplace, Gemma and Simon are told that Tom is to be excluded from school for attacking Max.|
|3||"Episode 3"||Jeremy Lovering||Mike Bartlett||19 September 2017||9.80|
Simon escalates his plan to push Gemma out of town. After retrieving Tom from the principal's office, Tom reveals that the reason for the fight with Max was because of the bullying Simon had done to Isobel's mum, Becky (season 1). Tom returns to Gemma's after arguing with Simon, at the suggestion that Tom change schools. Simon arrives at the house, lies to Kate, and the family end up eating dinner together under the pretext of dealing with Tom's school problems. They argue about accessing Tom's phone. Following dinner, Gemma concocts a plan to seduce Simon and record the encounter, but Simon discovers the phone on the counter ... and they have stalking, "hate" sex anyway. Anna arrives with wine, and reveals she overheard the romp. Anna announces she is moving to Edinburgh to live with her sister and never return, but not before blunting speaking her mind.The next day, the principal remains firm in punishing Tom, making enrollment in a nearby private school for Tom -- secretly suggested by Simon -- a good idea. Simon ridicules Gemma's notion that they had an agreement to co-parent, and forwards a video clip of Tom arguing at a cafe and flipping a table. Tom disappears from the cafe and Simon urges Gemma to look at Tom's phone photos, which reveal a budding romance between Isobel and Tom. Gemma spots Isobel in the cafe, who reveals that Tom sexually assaulted her at the party, the true cause of the fight between Tom and Max. Tom finds refuge at Anna's. Gemma doesn't understand how Tom could assault a woman ... and Gemma learns that Tom could hear her and Simon having sex... AND Simon knew about the sexual assault. Tom exits, but not before revealing his parent's previous night's romp to James, and advising him not to trust her. Tom bikes back to Simon's house, only to be blocked by Kate -- with Simon's consent -- for the violence at the cafe and fear for her child. Tom confides his shame and self-loathing to Gemma. They agree that leaving Parminster is the solution for both. Gemma attends Ros's wedding, lists the house for rent, and they leave town.
|4||"Episode 4"||Jeremy Lovering||Mike Bartlett||26 September 2017||10.06|
The day begins with Kate lounging in bed and Simon revealing he's relieved Tom is gone. She finds an envelope on the front doorstep, containing a note from Gemma and the tie Simon left at her house. Kate confronts Simon, who spins an unbelieved explanation. Kate finally opens the wedding gift from Gemma, revealing a note. Kate drops Amelie at her parents, attends university, and makes plans to go out with college friends ... running into Carly again. Kate accuses Carly of dropping off the note; Carly simply asks if Simon could have slept with Gemma again.
Her suspicions aroused, Kate searches Simon's phone and finds the picture of the inebriated Gemma. Kate rejects Simon's plea that maybe someday Tom could return. Kate precisely asks why Simon has the picture; Simon floats unbelievable, gas-lit answers. Kate encounters Siân in the cafe, who remarks that Gemma left within a month, just as Simon had predicted, and shows her Gemma's rental listing. Under the pretence of viewing the property, Kate visits Gemma's vacated house, snoops about, and discovers where Gemma has gone. Anne sees Kate before she can escape, and (since she's leaving with nothing to gain) bluntly discloses she heard Gemma and Simon's sex romp the previous week. Turns out, the hotel address was intentionally planted in numerous places throughout the house.
Flashback to earlier parts of the day ... Gemma contacts Kate's mum and Simon.
Arriving at Gemma's hotel, Kate is surprised to find Gemma, her parents and her daughter, who try to convince Kate that Simon did cheat on her. Kate claims she already knows Simon slept with Gemma; Gemma's plan has failed. That evening, Kate directly confronts Simon, says she only pretended to her parents that she and Simon had already discussed the romp, and Simon is compelled to admit his lie. Simon continues to pump the gas-lighting, and Kate now understands why Tom behaved the way he did. Back at the hotel, Gemma soothes Tom.After a sleepless night, Kate secretly meets Gemma at Gemma's house, who has the data points to prove Simon is replicating his marriage to Gemma with Kate, and pleads with Kate not to waste her life on him. The next morning, Simon finds that he can't access the ATM, can't find his business partner, and receives a message from Kate to come home. He finds movers, Chris telling him "You screwed up; you're done," and Mark prepared to move forward without him. Chris had literally everything planned if Simon screwed up, again. Simon is left with a single bag and well-earned despair. Gemma pulls up to the now-vacant house, says nothing and Simon rages. Tom still has concern for Simon. Gemma returns and offers to assist. Simon continues to declare that Tom is lost to Gemma. Gemma leaves for Tom at the hotel.
|5||"Episode 5"||Jeremy Lovering||Mike Bartlett||3 October 2017||10.49|
Gemma arrives at the hotel just as Simon arrives, and takes Tom to their empty house ... a blank slate to build a new home. Simon arrives at the house, prompting a driveway conversation. Tom clearly doesn't know who or what to believe, but recognizes Simon's manipulation and lies.
Gemma reflects on the hours before she learned her world would turn upside down. Gemma and Tom join James, Ros and her new husband for dinner. Simon appears, banging the restaurant window, and pleads for mutual absolution and reconciliation ... or threatens suicide (again). Tom interrupts to call out Simon's long history of lies and failures.
After dinner, James returns to the house with Gemma, proposing a fresh start to their relationship. Tom asks about Gemma's dead parents. Tom is worried about how Simon will persist, unless HE is dead. Gemma reflects on another pre-disaster conversation with Simon.
Gemma wakes to hear footsteps and a taxi driving away, and finds Tom missing from bed. When James attempts to calm her down, Gemma dismisses the relationship. Gemma reaches Tom, Simon hijacks the call, and Gemma intuits they're back at the hotel. She finds them on the side of a busy motorway where Simon appears to be on the verge of committing suicide by walking into the traffic.
Gemma persuades Simon to come inside with her and Tom and they have breakfast. Tom speaks of an optimistic future, while Simon weeps, consumed with self-hate. Simon prompts the reveal of the wedge he planted with Tom: That Gemma suffered post-natal depression after Tom's birth and abandoned him. Tom thinks that's why Gemma worked so much: to avoid spending time with him. Simon suggests Gemma's work is why he started the affair with Kate. Gemma provides Simon with the drugs she was earlier seen preparing, which will allow him to commit suicide with more privacy. Simon continues to toxically manipulate Tom. Gemma and Tom leave; Simon begins the process, Tom weeps ... and Gemma returns to the hotel room to convince Simon not to go through with it for their son's sake. Gemma offers a couple of framed pictures and Simon agrees not to use the drugs.Gemma checks her voicemails; Tom has been readmitted to school, sounds like she has her job back. But while in the hotel, Tom has disappeared. In another voicemail, Tom says he's going to start a new life, without his parents. The series ends with Gemma agonizing over pictures of Tom on 'Missing Person' notices.
- ^1 The ratings over a 28-day period, including the broadcasts on BBC One and streaming through BBC iPlayer.
The series was commissioned by Charlotte Moore and Ben Stephenson. The executive producers are Roanna Benn, Greg Brenman, Jude Liknaitzky, and Matthew Read. Filming took place in Green Lane, Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, Copse Wood Way, Northwood, London, Enfield and the Market Square in Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The surgery location shoot was at the Chess Medical Centre, in Chesham in Bucks, renamed Parminster Medical Centre for the show. The railway station featured in the show was Enfield Chase station. The scene that features Tom playing football was filmed at the Southgate Hockey Centre, Enfield.
It was announced at the end of Series 1 that the show would return for a second series, with both Suranne Jones and Bertie Carvel. At the 21st National Television Awards Jones announced that the new series began filming in September 2016.
The second series started on 5 September 2017 and concluded on 3 October 2017. The BBC is yet to confirm whether the show will return for a third series although writer Mike Bartlett does not dismiss the possibility.
In general, the show has received acclaim. The opening episode received generally positive reviews from critics, with Lucy Mangan from The Guardian calling it a "gripping portrait of a marriage slowly being poisoned," although Mangan expressed fears of the show descending into "melodrama in the not too distant future". In a review for The Daily Telegraph, Michael Hogan gave the drama four stars out of five, describing it as "an edgy nail-biter" that was "sparkily written by Olivier Award-winner Mike Bartlett", despite a soundtrack that was "overbearing".
Less enthusiastically, Victoria Segal of The Sunday Times wrote of the fourth episode that it "clattered unsteadily to its denouement ...this episode is as desperately uneven as the rest of the series, thrashing about between high melodrama and muted misery." Catherine Blythe of The Telegraph bemoaned its "absurd plot" and the lack of "emotional logic" in a series of "melodramatic contortions that required a character who was supposed to be brainy to act like an utter fool".
|2016||National Television Awards||New Drama||Doctor Foster||Won|
|Drama Performance||Suranne Jones||Won|
|Broadcasting Press Guild Awards||Best Drama||Doctor Foster||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Suranne Jones||Won|
|Best Writer||Mike Bartlett||Nominated|
|Royal Television Society Awards||Best Actress||Suranne Jones||Won|
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Mini-series||Doctor Foster||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Suranne Jones||Won|
|2018||National Television Awards||Drama Performance||Suranne Jones||Won|
Internationally, the series premiered in Australia on 17 November 2015 on BBC First, in New Zealand on 17 January 2016 on TV One, in France on 15 June 2016 on C8, in Poland on 3 August 2016 on Ale Kino+, in Sweden on 15 August 2016 on SVT1, and in Finland on 28. February 2018 on Yle TV1. The series aired in the US on Lifetime in April 2016 as Doctor Foster: A Woman Scorned and began streaming on Netflix in October 2016. In Spain, the series' first instalment was first broadcast on Nova in June 2018, and will air again on Antena 3 with two episodes per week as of 5 September and 6 September, respectively.
In South Korea, Doctor Foster aired on KBS 1TV from 25 January 2016 to 9 January 2018. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the immense popularity of its local adaptation which aired on JTBC, the latter will re-air Doctor Foster following the end of the local adaptation. Graceful Friends, the drama that was supposed to air after the local adaptation, was pushed back to July 2020.
|Country||Local title||Network||Original release|
|TF1||7 January – November 2019|
|Russia-1||11 March – 14 March 2019|
|India||Out of Love||Hotstar||22 November 2019 – 14 May 2021|
|South Korea||The World of the Married||JTBC||27 March – 16 May 2020|
|Kanal D||7 October 2020 – present|
|Philippines||The Broken Marriage Vow||Kapamilya Channel (ABS-CBN)
In 2020, BBC One broadcast the spin-off series Life, similarly written by Mike Bartlett and with Victoria Hamilton reprising her role as the character of Anna Baker, now known as "Belle Stone", living in a converted house in Manchester, England. The series also featured Anna's ex-husband Neil Baker (played again by Adam James).
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