Read on for everything we know so far about ITV’s twisty new drama…
When is Cheat on ITV?
CONFIRMED: Cheat will air stripped across one week, broadcast every evening at 9pm on ITV. Episode one will air on Monday 11th March, episode two on Tuesday 12th, episode three on Wednesday 13th and episode four on Thursday 14th.
What is Cheat about?
According to ITV, “At the heart of the drama is the dangerous relationship between university professor Leah, and her student Rose, when, what begins as a seemingly open and shut case of academic deception, quickly spirals out of control, ending in fatal consequences, and triggering a devastating sequence of events that threaten to engulf them both.”
The psychological thriller will “keep audiences guessing from the start” as it explores “just how far we’re prepared to stand up for what we believe, and at what cost.”
“We wanted to make sure that it was cat and cat the whole time, not cat and mouse,” director Louise Hooper said at a screening in London.
“I think at the start, both characters underestimate each other, and think that they’ve worked out the other one,” Molly Windsor explained. But as the drama builds, it becomes clear that Leah and Rose have both miscalculated.
Dr Leah Dale has always prided herself on her academic integrity, and so when undergraduate Rose Vaughan submits a suspiciously brilliant essay, Leah is quick to call her out. A war starts between the two women when Rose takes Leah’s challenge as a personal affront and pursues a course of retaliation against her professor, while Leah becomes entirely consumed with trying to expose her student as a cheat.
The drama is the work of screenwriting newcomer Gaby Hull, and is produced by Two Brothers Pictures, with The Missing and Liar‘s Harry and Jack Williams serving as executive producers. In fact, it was the Williams brothers who recommended that Hull’s idea for a 90-minute movie would actually make an excellent four-part mini-series.
Spooks and Victoria actor Peter Firth plays Dr Leah Dale’s father Michael, who was previously a lecturer at the same university before his recent retirement. Her mother Angela is played by Lorraine Ashbourne (of Unforgotten and The Interceptor), while Lara Rossi plays Amy.
Adrian Edmondson stars as Rose’s wealthy but emotionally abusive father William, and Burn Gorman plays the college porter Ben who is completely under this student’s spell.
Where is Cheat set – and filmed?
Cheat was filmed in Cambridge in the hot summer of 2018. Director Louise Hooper explained, “We wanted to not have a Scandi-noir or a dark noir. What we wanted to do is have this hot, lovely summer.
“I like that idea of being slightly counterintuitive with the thriller, so it feels hot and hazy and there’s lovely lazy days – but actually the underbelly of it is completely dark and dangerous, because of all the horrible emotions that are bubbling there.”
But there was one downside of filming in Cambridge, as she warned: “Never work with punts.”
Cheat may be filmed in Cambridge – but it is not set at the University of Cambridge itself, as the director is quick to point out. Instead, the university we see on screen is entirely fictional, and was created with the help of college buildings and quads as well as schools in Cambridge and beyond.
As for the scenes outside Cambridge, episode one kicks off in a prison visiting room as Leah and Rose face each other through a thick glass screen, before flashing back to the events that led up to that point. This was actually filmed on a specially-created set designed to be “stark and monochromatic.”
“It was set in a place called Brams Hill, but it’s just a set in a wonderful stately home where we filmed lots of different aspects of the show,” Hooper revealed.