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Trust Me (BBC1 Aug 2017)

CRUMBLIES…. 3 crumblies

Well, Trust Me is over now – and what a rarefied kind of fun! A modern piece of TV where the writer (Dan Sefton) gave himself the task of shaping a realistic drama from the headlines. And, in this instance, the headlines were about an angry nursing sister stealing her friend’s identity, blagging a doctor’s job in an Edinburgh hospital, and getting away with it despite the threatening incidental music and the camera being shoved up her nose.

It made me tense.

As you’d expect in today’s television, the leads are in their thirties with the life experience of those in their fifties. They are beautiful and beautifully filmed – if you like that level of lens flare. The primary location is Edinburgh, which bitch-slaps the usual big city locations for this kind of stuff into the ugly box. Oh, but it’s pretty.

The plot skips about, but at heart is a tale of self-destruction. The lead has sold her soul and basks in the paranoia and machine-gun drama of working through that mistake whilst taking a daily punt with people’s lives. I liked her. The camera barely leaves the side of her head, so you’re along for every moment of the hole getting deeper.

The acting is TV-excellent and – in a couple of places – heroic given the twists and turns of character and plot. Jodie Whittaker leads, her character hemmed in by the controlling Emun Elliott and the glorious Sharon Small. Ms Small almost fell over the Americans with accessibility and fun in the 2004 UK stage version of When Harry Met Sally; here she works with as much grace, but is matched by the skills of her colleagues.

To properly get love and hugs from old Jack here, you need to be consistent and touching as well. Trust Me isn’t. It discomfited me, which on reflection is its intention, but does so with the right mix of story and character and the wrong mix of inconsistency and irritating. The writer’s game rises ever so slightly into plain view and that spoils the effect – but not until part four.

Overall, it is gripping, fascinating drama. The short-term peaks can be more than a bit forced: oh no, we misdiagnosed! Hellfire, I forgot to anaesthetise him! Gulp – my husband has unexpectedly pitched up at my most panicked moment! They give way to flat out coincidence in the final hour. This distracts, but all credit to the production team for the smartness of the visuals, edit and acting choices.

Ultimately, it’s like watching Doctor Faustus without the Devil turning up to do the deal. The lead does the dealing with herself, which is fine and an enjoyable through-line as she tumbles into her own hell. But, then, so does her shiny new boss, her shiny new boyfriend and…it left me wondering…so will anyone who comes near her. Not quite so realistic after all.

Go watch it? Yes! It’s on the BBC iPlayer for the next four weeks and on iTunes for the real fans with bucks to spare.  If you want to see something gorgeous with an alienating last hour, Trust Me awaits!

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