It sounds like there could be some fireworks to come from a newly-empowered doctor
The BBC's award-winning drama Dr Foster returns to screens
The BBC’s Bafta-winning drama, Dr Foster, returns to screens this week, with Suranne Jones and Bertie Carvel reprising their roles as a warring, and now divorced, couple who are trying to maintain some semblance of normality after a series of affairs, financial irregularities and breakdowns.
Surprisingly, despite the show winning her a Best Actress Bafta, and the first series averaging almost 10 million viewers per episode in the UK, Jones, who plays the titular doctor Gemma Foster, says she didn’t initially anticipate a second series. “At first, I didn’t think there would be a second series. I wasn’t sure about it. [Then] Mike [Bartlett, writer] and I sat down and he told me what he wanted to do in the second series. It sounded amazing. He sold me there and then on the premise. I think it’s something we haven’t ever seen on television before. This series is about two people who are divorced, but still have to be with each other because of their child. We’ve had War of the Roses and Kramer versus Kramer in the cinema, but nothing like this on television.”
For her co-star and on-screen cheating husband Carvel, the series renewal seemed to come as less of a surprise. “It seemed pretty obvious because the first series was so successful. It went above and beyond people’s expectations. It had a light-the-blue-touchpaper reaction. The scale of the response was amazing. It felt like it touched a nerve,” the actor says.
Carvel seems convinced the second series can continue the success of the first.
“I’m not going to spoil the plot but what is great about Mike’s writing is that he finds the epic in the everyday.
He taps into the anxiety about infidelity that a lot of people share.
“That storyline doesn’t finish at the end of the first series. In the final episode of the last series, everything was laid on the table, but of course Simon and Gemma’s lives didn’t end there. They still had a child and a marriage to deal with. As Mike is such a brilliant writer, he says, ‘These people’s stories don’t end here. What next?’ I can tell you, it’s definitely worth the wait.”
Jones agrees, and says her character has moved on significantly from the broken woman we encountered in the first series. It sounds like there could be some fireworks to come from a newly-empowered doctor.
“This feels like a completely new story,” she says. “The first series was about Gemma’s breakdown after she discovered something she hadn’t known about. She was heartbroken and manipulative and out of control. This series is set two years later. This time she has a lot of anger and bitterness – all the good things.”
Although Carvel maintains he doesn’t want to give too much away about the second season’s plot, he does confide that his own character, the unfaithful husband, is also now in a very different place to when we last saw him on screen in 2015.
“In series 1, his life was spiralling out of control. He was doing everything to try to put the genie back in the bottle,” Carvel says. “He was attempting to spin lots of different plates and keep everyone smiling. He was very reactive. He was on the back foot, while Gemma was the detective hunting out the truth and pushing all the levers.
“Now Simon has gone away and done work on himself. He’s rebuilt himself and now he has a plan. The power has shifted in their relationship, and there is an epic battle between two ordinary people fighting over everything.”
With awards, audience approval and a second season already in the bag, can we perhaps look forward to a third season documenting the travails of the warring Fosters?
Carvel, again, isn’t giving too much away. “Mike would not do something for the sake of it. He wouldn’t say, ‘Let’s do more because it’s been a huge hit.’ He would have to have something to write.
“But I would hope the answer would be yes. I love his writing and I have really enjoyed playing this role.”
Dr Foster Season 2 begins on BBC First at midnight tonight, exclusively on OSN