A REVENGE-seeking, wine-gulping, patient-swerving disgrace to the NHS she may be, but Doctor Foster has been the best thing to happen to BBC drama since Sarah Lancashire donned a high-viz jacket and rode into Happy Valley.

The titular medic, played by Suranne Jones, brought the second series to a close in typically mad, bad, unashamedly preposterous fashion.

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Dear Gemma, how we will miss you on Tuesday nights. Not as much as the owner of the local off-licence, but a lot.


Series creator Mike Bartlett based his tale of a GP scorned by her cheating husband on the Greek tragedy Medea, so there was every chance not everyone would make it to the credits. Sure enough, 15 minutes in, Gemma’s ex, Simon, had threatened to kill her twice. Instead of the police being called, the unhappy little family sat down to breakfast.

The location was the same hotel where Gemma and son Tom holed up last week – a cross between Alan Partridge’s Travel Tavern and the gaff in The Shining where Jack Nicholson lost his mind, its delights included the world’s most emotionally obtuse waitress.

“Good morning! How are we all doing this morning?” she trilled as Simon sat there, balled up like a tear-soaked tissue. I’ll have a Jack Daniels and Coke, he whimpered. “We only have Pepsi. Is that okay?” Love, did he look like he was up to the Pepsi challenge?

At least the hotel from hell provided some comic relief in an episode that was determined to put the viewer through the wringer.

Every dramatic trick, cheap and otherwise, was pulled. For viewers who have had trouble believing Gemma’s transformation from plain furious to Fury it may have been too much.

Yet in the end, Bartlett’s most effective moves were as gentle as a caress. Via flashbacks we saw how happy Gemma and Simon had once been. Now, having pummelled each other into the ground, their son was the only good thing left of them. As such, only he could bring them to their senses, and he did.

Between them, Jones and Bartlett created a morally cloudy heroine for these shifting sands times. Part goddess, part monster, Doctor Foster’s most outrageous act was not giving a hoot if other people liked her. She was a woman, in short, who behaved like a man. But in this battle of the sexes there was only one winner: the viewer.