TV preview: Doctor Foster

Former Coronation Street star Suranne Jones plays Dr Gemma Foster, a GP whose world is thrown upside down when she starts suspecting that her husband is having an affair.
Former Coronation Street star Suranne Jones plays Dr Gemma Foster, a GP whose world is thrown upside down when she starts suspecting that her husband is having an affair.
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After long stints in Coronation Street and Scott & Bailey, many of us are accustomed to seeing Suranne Jones on the small screen.

But even the 37-year-old actress was surprised to see just how much screen time she has in her new BBC One drama, Doctor Foster.

“I think in the whole five hours, there are about four scenes I’m not in,” she says, smiling.

“”If you don’t like me as an actress, I wouldn’t watch this – because it’s just me,” she adds, chuckling.

Jones, who started her career aged 21 as gobby seamstress Karen McDonald in Corrie, plays Gemma Foster in the new drama, a GP whose seemingly perfect life is thrown into disarray when she suspects her husband of an affair.

In preparation to play a doctor, she visited a GP surgery and “sat in a corner like some mad actress writing stuff down, as people were opening up and having blood tests and doing pee samples”.

Jones also watched the fly-on-the-wall Channel 5 series, GPs: Behind Closed Doors. “My husband would come in and I’d be crying at all these real people in intimate situations,” she reveals.

There was a point where the emotionally draining workload caught up with her, and she admits that when you first read a script, “you don’t think that it’s then you who has to do it all”.

Throughout the series, her character’s “personality changes so much”, the actress notes. “The more extreme she got, the more exhausted I was getting.

“According to the execs, that actually worked really well,” Jones adds. “I think they were basically saying I looked really tired and terrible, which was great!”

Although she “in no way” compares herself to a doctor, she says she can relate to some of the aspects of life being well known, whether in a community setting or from afar as a TV actress, can bring.

“I think being a pillar of the community and everyone knowing you and everyone wanting to chat with you, there’s parts of that which aren’t dissimilar to being a well-known actress,” she explains.

“I can be on the street or at a function, and equally people may be coming up to talk me, and you feel like you have to give attention to people and not be rude, so I relate to that.”

While she doesn’t know whether Doctor Foster is bound for a sequel, she would love to take another turn in spoof Charlie Brooker comedy A Touch of Cloth, and is “in talks” about the recently announced three-part special of Scott & Bailey.

Knee-deep in a writing project with the production company behind the crime drama, she’s pleased with the amount of choice available to her.

“Five or 10 years ago, we could be sitting here saying there are no roles for women,” says Jones. “But nowadays, there are loads of roles for women, and I think Doctor Foster is very brave.”

Doctor Foster, BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm

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