When is Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett’s new BBC drama Life on TV?

Doctor Foster character Anna Baker (Victoria Hamilton) returns as "Belle" in this six-part drama about the residents of a house in Manchester.

Victoria Hamilton as Belle in Life

In four separate flats in one large subdivided house in Manchester, people are living their lives – and those people happen to be played by Alison Steadman, Peter Davison, Victoria Hamilton, Adam James, Adrian Lester and Rachael Stirling, so you know some *dramatic* things are about to happen.

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Six-part drama Life is written by Doctor Foster’s Mike Bartlett and serves as a sort of spin-off of that hit 2015 drama, with some familiar characters popping up in this new story.

Here’s everything you need to know about Life (or at least, the TV series):

When is Life on TV? 

Life began on Tuesday 29th September at 9pm on BBC One, and continues on Tuesdays at 9pm.

Now that the first episode has aired, all six episodes of Life are available on BBC iPlayer as a boxset.

How is Life connected to Doctor Foster?

Two characters from Doctor Foster, Anna Baker and her ex-husband Neil, will feature in the new series.

Explaining his decision to put these two Doctor Foster characters in Life, Mike Bartlett said: “In the last series of Doctor Foster, Anna split up with Neil and moved away, but I loved her as a character and suspected that was really the start of her story, rather than the end.”

Doctor Foster ep 3 Anna Victoria Hamilton

Anna had announced she was moving to Edinburgh when she left Neil in Doctor Foster series two, but now here she is – building a new life in Manchester, calling herself “Belle”, and working as a pilates instructor.

Adam James (Neil Baker) will appear later on in the series, reprising his role as Belle/Anna’s now ex-husband Neil.

What is Life about?

Life follows the parallel stories of a the inhabitants of a large Manchester house subdivided into separate flats. The four separate storylines are united by the theme of overcoming modern isolation and making real human connections, and you can read more about it in our Life review.

The BBC says that “as each of the four stories unfold and intertwine in surprising ways, they tell a larger story about what happens when we step out of our personal space and take a closer look into other people’s lives. Life explores love, loss, birth, death, the ordinary, the extraordinary and everything in between.”

Gail and Henry in Life on BBC One

Gail (Alison Steadman) is married to Henry (Peter Davison) and is about to celebrate her 70th birthday “when a chance encounter throws her whole life into question.”

Meanwhile, David (Adrian Lester) is happily married to Kelly (Rachael Stirling), “but is conflicted by temptation when he meets the impulsive Saira (Saira Choudhry) on holiday.”

Then there’s Belle (Victoria Hamilton), whose neatly ordered life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of her “chaotic” 15 year-old niece Maya (Erin Kellyman).

Finally, we have heavily-pregnant Hannah (Melissa Johns) – who is happily coupled up with “safe and stable” Liam (Joshua James). But then the guy she had a one-night stand with nine months previously – Andy (Calvin Demba) – makes a reappearance.

Life also features Elaine Paige and Susannah Fielding in key roles.

Who’s in the cast of Life?

Gail and Henry in Life on BBC One

The cast of Life includes Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey), Peter Davison (Doctor Who), Adrian Lester (Trauma), Victoria Hamilton (Doctor Foster), Adam James (Doctor Foster), and Rachael Stirling (The Bletchley Circle).

They are joined by the likes of Calvin Demba (Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Saira Choudhry (Hollyoaks), Erin Kellyman (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Melissa Johns (Coronation Street), Elaine Paige (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Susannah Fielding (This Time with Alan Partridge).

Is there a trailer for Life?

Yes – take a look below:

What else has writer Mike Bartlett made? 

The playwright is best known for Doctor Foster, his National Television Award-winning 2015-2017 drama starring Suranne Jones.

Other notable credits include King Charles III (the play and BBC television film), Albion, Doctor Who episode Knock Knock, The Town, and Earthquakes in London.

Life is executive produced by Bartlett, Roanna Benn and Jude Liknaitzky at Drama Republic, alongside Ben Irving at BBC One. It is produced by Kate Crowther, with Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard and Kate Hewitt all directing episodes.

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Check out what else is on with our TV Guide, or take a look at our new TV shows 2020 page to find out what’s airing this autumn and beyond.