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Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett reveals his original series two ending was SO different

Tom’s disappearance wasn’t part of the creator's initial plan but the events of the past two series cried out for it...

Published: Tuesday, 16th October 2018 at 11:57 am

**WARNING: spoiler alert if you haven't seen series two episode five of Doctor Foster**


Series two of Doctor Foster ended with Gemma and Simon’s son Tom’s sudden disappearance.

After all the sturm and drang of the bitter break-up it was as if we viewers experienced the same thing as Gemma – a sudden realisation, far too late, about what the teenager has put up with all this time.

And this twist wasn’t actually part of writer Mike Bartlett’s plan – at least not in his first draft – as he revealed in an exclusive interview with

“The ending of the show unfolded as I was writing it,” he reveals.

“In the plan he’s in the car at the end. They go back to her house and get a new kitchen and try to build a life. It was only when I went to write it that she goes back to the car and he’s not there. But that happened very organically from what he has been through, I think.

“Tom’s not a little child any more, he’s going to make his own choices. And so hopefully it’s one of those ones which you don’t see coming but when it happens you look over the whole series and realise this has been coming the whole time.

“I was so involved in Gemma and Simon’s story that's all I was thinking about when writing it. It sounds mad, this. But she comes out of the hotel and he’s not there. That’s the moment you look for as a writer, when the characters start telling you what they are doing rather than you telling them.”

What did you think of that Doctor Foster ending? Have your say right here

For Bartlett, Tom had been “forgotten and buffeted around and also doing his own not so good things”.

But he says that he deliberately did not plan the ending because he wanted to live “in the present” with his characters.

He adds: “I think it’s important with this show that you stay in the present. It’s not a show where you are seeding lots of things for some future thing. And that’s never been the point of it. Part of the reason I don’t massively do a big masterplan for it is that no one in the show has that. And it’s all about the present moment and what it feels like to go through this.


"No one’s in control of things, particularly in series two. There’s no big plan, it’s spiralling and they’re trying to keep control of it and that’s part of the energy of the show.”


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