First review of Jodie Whittaker’s new BBC1 drama Trust Me: "you'll find it hard to look away"
The BBC's latest psychological thriller has an outlandish premise – but the new Doctor Who star's sensitive and emotionally mature performance keeps us hooked
Jodie Whittaker’s latest character Cath Hardacre in Trust Me is a highly competent nurse who cannot bear some of the things she sees in her work – clear examples of incompetence which are putting lives in danger.
She is clearly caring and compassionate – an early scene shows her hugging a patient, another shows her cheerful kindness to an elderly woman who has wet her bed. “Streaking again, Maggie” she says with a chuckle before clearing up.
She is also a responsible single mum who cares for her young daughter Molly, bailing out her feckless ex Karl (Blake Harrison of The Inbetweeners fame) whenever the need arises.
So her decision to blow the whistle on malpractice at her workplace seems very much in character. The only problem is her bosses do what they always seem to do in TV dramas like these – turn on the whistleblowers. Poor Cath is suspended pending further enquiries.
But what's this? Her best friend, Dr Ally Sutton (Andrea Lowe) is conveniently heading off to New Zealand to live with her sheep farmer husband. Why not take her identity, apply for a job in an Edinburgh hospital and restart her medical career? This doctoring lark can’t be too hard... can it?
It’s nothing if not a bold conceit, and this stunning change of direction mid-way through episode one may leave you catching your breath. However, the plot implausibilities have to be swallowed like a rather uncomfortable pill.
Because, if you think about it for too long, the chances are the real Dr Ally Sutton has an online profile – would curious colleagues not check her out before she joined the hospital? Check what she looked like on Google images or Facebook? Also, in order to get a new job, she would have had to use Ally’s details, her National Insurance number, her old address. It is quite an undertaking…
But, sheer improbability aside, it makes for a compelling drama; an unbearably tense first hour as we follow Cath into this alien new environment. And what is good in this show owes a lot to some really sterling work from Whittaker who shows what she is made of before she heads for the Tardis.
The former Broadchurch star (who speaks about her role here) has always been a performer who hones like an arrow on the emotional meat of her role and here she is on excellent form.
Her character is clearly doing a terrible thing but Whittaker never fails to hold our attention – or sympathy. Under her spell you are steadfastly with her all the way.
She is also subject to many close ups – the camera focuses so determinedly on her it’s almost as if you can sense her brain cogs whirring away, her face a potpourri of panic, fear and steely determination.
Her social and professional elevation also draws us into her world – we are with her every step of the way as fish and chips becomes Pizza Express and then swanky kitchen suppers in posh parts of Edinburgh…
The dinner parties also hold the promise of a love interest too as Cath/Ally forges a strong attraction to Dr Andy Bremner (Emun Elliott, below) a charming consultant who sees in her a balm for his tormented soul (he is newly divorced) but clearly doesn't know what he is letting himself in for.
He too is someone seeking to put his life back on track, though of course it does feel inevitable that everything will unravel horribly over the next few episodes.
One more word of warning, too: this drama is not for the faint-hearted. There are plenty of scenes of bloody curdling horror – Cath does work in A&E, after all. So expect spatters and screams. Lots of screams. But you'll find it hard to look away...
Trust Me starts on BBC1 on Tuesday 8th August