PAGING fans of the hit BBC series Doctor Foster: a new spin-off drama, Life, will arrive on our television screens this month. Set in a house divided into four flats, it sees Victoria Hamilton reprise her role as Gemma Foster's neighbour Anna Baker.

A spin-off? Aren't those always a terrible idea …

I can see why you would think that. Examples of downright awful spin-offs include the Friends offshoot, Joey, and the appallingly bad Beverly Hills Buntz spawned from Hill Street Blues.

But there have been some good (and rather successful) ones too: Frasier, Xena: Warrior Princess and Better Call Saul came from Cheers, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Breaking Bad respectively.

And lest we forget The Simpsons began life as animated shorts shown on The Tracey Ullman Show before becoming a standalone TV series and a global phenomenon.

Will Life be the new The Simpsons, then?

That might be a stretch but on paper it has many of the right components: love, loss, birth and death, not to mention characters with messy lives and shortcomings that many of us can relate to.

At least, that's what lead actor Victoria Hamilton, who played the Queen Mother in the first two series of The Crown, believes will appeal to TV audiences.

How so?

According to Hamilton: "There are hundreds of different elements to this story, there are elements which are thriller-like, elements that really make you laugh, elements that are just heart-breaking, and it shifts very quickly between those, all of the time."

What's the premise?

Life follows Anna (no longer Doctor Foster's neighbour in Parminster) as she looks to build a new life in Manchester, following her divorce from ex-husband Neil.

She moves into a flat within a sub-divided house – the idea being that four different stories can unfold interwoven through this quartet of abodes. Anna is now going by the name Belle and working as a Pilates teacher.

Hamilton says: "She's at a point in her life where all of the challenges seem to have piled in all at once and she finds herself in this position where, when she actually needs to be completely on her own, totally self-sufficient and she's looking after herself, she gets sort of pulled back into the past, in a way."

Who else does the series star?

Well, there's Alison Steadman, known for Abigail's Party and Gavin & Stacey, whose character Gail is married to Henry, played by Peter Davison (yes, he of Doctor Who fame).

The cast also includes Rachael Stirling (The Bletchley Circle), Saira Choudhry (Coronation Street) and Adrian Lester (Trauma). Adam James will appear later in the series, reprising his Doctor Foster role as Belle's ex-husband Neil.

What about Doctor Foster?

It doesn't appear that Suranne Jones will be part of Life. You can catch her soon in BBC thriller, Vigil, currently being filmed in Scotland.

When can I watch?

Life begins on BBC One, Tuesday, September 29, at 9pm.