This article was originally published in The Dundee Courier on 12 August 2017.
TRUST ME: Tuesday, BBC One
PAUL O’GRADY’S HOLLYWOOD: Saturday, Channel 4
Jodie Whittaker, in case you haven’t heard, was recently announced as the first female Doctor in Doctor Who. This news passed without much fanfare or reaction, so don’t be concerned if you missed it.
In the new medical drama/psychological thriller TRUST ME, she plays a disgruntled NHS nurse who fakes her qualifications and poses as… a doctor. Nobody involved in this production, perhaps not even Whittaker herself, could’ve foreseen how jarring it is whenever she or anyone else refers to her job title in the show.
However, they might be pleased by the extra attention Trust Me will receive from millions of Doctor Who fans keen to see Whittaker in action before this year’s Christmas special. How does she move and talk? Will we pick up any hints of how she might play the Doctor?
The added interest is understandable, but of course we won’t. She’s an actress, a perfectly good one, playing an entirely different role. In Trust Me she’s an ordinary human woman, albeit one who does an extraordinary thing.
And that’s the problem with this curious drama – the course she takes is so morally wrong and potentially catastrophic, it’s hard to believe that a diligent, decent nurse would ever do such a thing.
Writer Dan Sefton, who’s a qualified doctor, struggled to give her enough plausible motivation. She complains to her trust about gross negligence of patients on her ward. They don’t want to know, so they suspend her.
She’s understandably upset by this injustice, but would that really trigger the action she takes? She claims she’s doing it to build a better life for her daughter, but surely she must know that the girl will be better off without her mother in prison?
It’s not enough to say: people do crazy things in times of dire need. We need to believe in those crazy things. That’s why the intended suspense of whether she’ll be found out (and she will be) doesn’t work.
Whittaker is fine in this perplexing role, but the material is too unfocused to do her justice. I hope the Doctor Who team giver her something more substantial to work with.
Ever since cinema began, one of its primary goals has been to make audiences cry. That’s because people enjoy sobbing at sad, sentimental stories. It’s cathartic.
In episode one of PAUL O’GRADY’S HOLLYWOOD, our jovially sardonic host – sitting, as per the rules of programmes about classic films, in an empty old-fashioned cinema – guided as through some of the greatest weepies ever made.
This being Saturday night on Channel 4, the tired and tested clip show format was out in force. That is: a torrent of brief film clips interrupted by famous talking heads telling us what they think.
In fairness, it did include some decent insight from film critics Richard Dyer and Jonathan Ross, psychologist Philippa Perry, and Celia Johnson’s daughter talking about her mother’s involvement in Brief Encounter. Jon Voight and Bernard Cribbins were also welcome as they actually starred in the films they were talking about (The Champ and The Railway Children respectively).
But has anyone of sound mind been seriously champing at the bit to hear Myleene Klass’ thoughts on Marley and Me? Or Richard E. Grant on Brief Encounter? Or some actress from Hollyoaks on anything?
Who are these programmes aimed at? Masochistic cineastes?