Life: Doctor Foster’s spin-off explores “loneliness in the big cities”


Gavin and Stacey star Alison Steadman stars alongside Victoria Hamilton

Throwing a spin-off on an extremely popular TV series can go both ways. There are a lot of success stories (like Frasier) but also a lot of flops (with all due respect to Joey).

BBC One’s latest drama Life is a Doctor Foster spin-off, which launched in 2015 and has been watched by over 10 million viewers.

Life is set in the same world as its predecessor, but only features one familiar character: Victoria Hamilton’s Anna, the friendly neighbor who always had a glass of wine in her hand.

But does that mean viewers have to have seen all of Doctor Foster to understand his new spin-off, which begins Tuesday night?

“Absolutely not, no,” said Hamilton. “To an extraordinary degree, I think, you really don’t need to have seen it.

“Life is a very complete story in itself, it’s a whole different universe and everything you need to know about it is given to you in the first episode of this story. ”

Those who have watched Dr Foster may remember that Anna left Parminster in the second series, after finding out that her husband had been unfaithful again. In Life, Anna changed her name to Belle (as her full name is Annabel) and tries to start over.

Hamilton’s character Anna left Parminster for a fresh start

But she’s just one of the many main characters, all of whom live in close proximity to each other.

Set in Manchester, the series follows the inhabitants of a large house divided into four apartments, and also stars Adrian Lester, Alison Steadman and Melissa Johns. Neighbors do not know each other well, yet their lives are unexpectedly intertwined.

Writer Mike Bartlett (who was also behind Doctor Foster) was intrigued by how the characters’ actions could impact each other, often without them realizing it.

“I was living in an apartment that was part of an old house that had been divided, and I was amazed that we were all a half-timbered wall from each other, but didn’t really know each other,” he explains. “We were hearing the most intimate details of each other’s sex and love lives, and yet you would meet in the hallway, and you wouldn’t exchange two words.”

“And I found it really interesting about our nature as a people, when we want to be private and when we want community. We are in desperate need of connection, and yet so often we end up feeling lonely, especially in big cities, so I wanted to write about this. ”

Spin offs: a brief history

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Some of the greatest shows in television history were spin-offs. The very successful Frasier lasted 11 seasons and recorded 264 episodes – just behind its predecessor Cheers, who succeeded 270. Happy Days had a huge Sept the consequences. The most successful were Mork and Mindy and Laverne and Shirley.

Most recently, Emmy nominees You better call Saul launched in 2015 as a spin-off of Breaking Bad, and was created by the same team – Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. Young Sheldon still continues three years after its debut as a childhood exam of The Big Bang Theorythe main character of.

But others have been much less popular. friends spin off Joey only lasted two seasons and failed to match the phenomenal popularity of its predecessor. And the least said about Only fools and horses spin off Green green grass, the best.

  • Read more: TV spin-offs: the best and the worst

Life is aptly named, as the series covers birth, death, marriage, infidelity, and mental health.

The series kicks off with the arrival of Belle’s teenage niece, who is a handful, to say the least. “Her niece comes into her life like a whirlwind, and one of the things Belle has always ended up doing is taking care of others, taking care of their problems and being the person in charge of things,” Hamilton explains.

“So you watch her try to face all of these people and basically try to carry all of their problems for them, while being less than honest about the huge amount of her own demons.” “


Melissa Johns and Adrian Lester play two of the characters who all have different tastes when it comes to wallpaper color

But each character on the show has their own inner battles – which is a reflection of real life, says Lester, who plays David: “Everyone goes through unique, incredibly deep and heartbreaking situations, and it’s great to do. part of a show that explores this. ”

Steadman’s character Gail finds himself reassessing things as a major anniversary approaches.

“There was a woman who had been married all these years, a lovely house, two kids, and everything seemed to be going well, but suddenly she’s looking back at her life, at the age of 70,” she says. “Normally people look at their life again at 50 or 60, but at 70? Suddenly saying ‘hmm’ and reassessing her sounded interesting and empowering. ”

The fourth main character is Hannah, played by Melissa Johns. “In the first episode, Hannah is very pregnant and the father of her baby is Andy, with whom she had a one-night stand eight months ago,” she explains.

“I think the term is entanglement – you know, like Jada Pinkett Smith and August [Alsina]Jokes his co-star Calvin Demba, referring to a recent high-profile case.


Steadman’s character Gail finds himself reassessing her life at 70

In the absence of a third Doctor Foster series, Bartlett felt that there was potential to explore and develop the character of Anna, but also make drama that struck a different tone.

“I had written a lot of heavy stuff,” he says. “Doctor Foster goes to very dark places, and this show also goes to very dark places, but what I felt I hadn’t seen enough was a show that let us see the strength of people. , kindness, kindness.

“A show that really took a group of characters through some of the most difficult things everyone has to face in life, and seen how they dealt with it. “

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