It must be equally amazing and difficult to be Jodie Whittaker right now. Such a versatile actress with a career full of challenging and different roles and yet all anyone wants to talk about now is Doctor Who. A new Doctor is always top of the headlines and creates quite the buzz but the first female Doctor in the show’s history? Now that’s something to create headlines and discussions. If you read fan forums you’ll know that Jodie as the Doctor is either the best thing to ever happen or ruining the show’s legacy forever. That’s the Internet for you. Such arguments are already becoming quite frustrating but Jodie is already working the media circuit and bringing some much needed positive vibes to the future of our top home-grown sci-fi show.
With Jodie’s first series as The Doctor still way ahead in the future many fans are desperately looking for something to fill the void that isn’t just repeats of Broadchurch. Luckily BBC One has served up some much needed Whittaker in the form of dramatic thriller Trust Me. Yes, let’s get the obvious comment out of the way first – Jodie plays a ‘Doctor’ in this one too. Hilarious. However there’s no sonic screwdriver in sight and certainly no time travel so the comparisons end there. Actually that’s not entirely true as Whittaker manages to display some of the emotional range and deep characterisation that is essential for a successful Doctor so Trust Me gives the smallest of glimpses at her capabilities and what she’ll bring to the table as everyone’s favourite TARDIS pilot. This role however is much more grounded, but the storyline itself is perhaps as unbelievable as anything you could expect to see in Chris Chibnall’s upcoming series.
Trust Me follows struggling mother Cath (Whittaker) as she loses her nursing job and desperately looks for a way out. Blake Harrison from The Inbetweeners plays a much toned down role here as Cath’s ex Karl, hoping to stay on the straight and narrow after drug problems. There’s no real relationship anymore between the two beyond their daughter Molly and Cath has no reason to stay in the area so she looks to take the most drastic option to change her future – moving to Edinburgh from Sheffield and stealing a friend’s identity to become a Doctor. On paper it sounds like a completely preposterous idea and you wonder how it could ever work but writer Dan Sefton has had first hand experience of a similar case in the real world so who are we to question it? It makes Trust Me all the more shocking knowing these things do actually happen.
Whittaker as the constantly on-edge Cath is the driving force behind the success of Trust Me. It would be all too easy to make the show into a complete mess but Jodie manages to balance the emotions – a genuine love for her daughter, the unsure confidence of starting to become an imposter, and the sheer panic in places when she’s put into compromising positions with her job. Whether it’s fixing an ankle or the more serious repercussions of a car crash Cath tries to step up to the plate with varying levels of success. She never quite gives the game away but it’s only the first episode and there’ll be plenty more challenges to come. She quickly forms a relationship with consultant Andy (Emun Elliott) which further puts her in jeopardy as now she needs to be careful with her personal life as well as professional. The opener gives us just enough of a taste of Cath’s world and what’s to come to make us want more and Jodie Whittaker is in fine form as expected.
Trust Me can be viewed as a psychological study of what a mother will do to look after her child, or the desperate state of hospitals these days, or maybe it all means nothing and it’s just a means to an end to give us a crazy thrill ride. Whatever you get out of it there’s no doubt that Whittaker is a strong leading lady in the prime of her career and brings her best no matter what the material is like. Sefton’s writing is undoubtedly elevated by his cast and it will be interesting to see if he can continue the momentum and build to a satisfying conclusion. At this rate it certainly doesn’t seem like Cath will have a happy ending, especially considering her past is already starting to catch up with her by the end of the episode. Let’s hope her choices don’t have any deadly consequences in the remaining three hours.
Trust Me airs on BBC One on Tuesdays at 9pm.
Dir: John Alexander & Amy Neil
Prd: Will Nicholson & Emily Feller
Scr: Dan Sefton
Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Blake Harrison, Nathan Walsh, Lois Chimimba