Coronation Street to Doctor Foster: Suranne Jones reveals her dark side in new BBC One drama

Suranne Jones swaps enters the GP's surgery in new BBC One drama Doctor Foster. The newly-wed actress discusses infidelity, how cheating can drive anybody to extreme behaviour, and why her part in the 'brave' series made her nervous

After long stints in Coronation Street and ITV's Scott & Bailey, many of us are accustomed to seeing Suranne Jones on the small screen.

But even the 37-year-old actress was surprised to see just how much screen time she has in her new BBC One drama, Doctor Foster.

"I think in the whole five hours, there are about four scenes I'm not in," she says, smiling.

"Filming-wise, it's been like The Truman Show. I've never done anything like that before. The big projects I've done have always been shared.

"If you don't like me as an actress, I wouldn't watch this - because it's just me," she adds, chuckling.

Doctor Foster

Of course, if you don't like Jones as an actress, you could tune in for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell star Bertie Carvel, who plays her husband Simon, or simply for the script, penned by King Charles III playwright Mike Bartlett.

Jones is aware that expectations will be high.

"There's the pressure of being in a big BBC thing, and Mike's thing too... he's just won two Oliviers," she adds.

"You want to please a writer like Mike Bartlett, so I guess it was lucky that I was in every [scene]; I hadn't sat back and questioned while I was filming, 'Am I doing it all right?' - I was just getting through it.

"Maybe when I go on holiday, I'll start to get twitchy and go, 'Oh my God, it's coming out soon...'.'"

Jones, who started her career aged 21 as gobby seamstress Karen McDonald in Corrie, plays Gemma Foster in the new drama, a GP whose seemingly perfect life is thrown into disarray when she suspects her husband of an affair.

Doctor Foster

In real life, the actress, who wed magazine editor Laurence Akers a few weeks ago in early August, has never been involved with a love rat, and she's matter of fact about those who cheat.

"I'm quite a black and white person, so to me, if you're not in a trustful situation, get out," says the Oldham-born star. "If you get to a point where you're checking phones or hire a private investigator or you're following someone, get out. But that's not what people do."

That said, she has "two close friends" who've been cheated on and is not without empathy.

"Unless you've been in that situation, how do you know what you'd do? I've seen what it's done to [my friends] as people," she explains.

"Any time I thought in the script, 'Would you do that?', I realised you would [do things like check phones rather than just walk away], because sane, brilliant, beautiful people I know have done some very extreme things because they were heartbroken."

Throughout the series, her character's "personality changes so much", the actress notes. "The more extreme she got, the more exhausted I was getting.

"According to the execs, that actually worked really well," Jones adds. "I think they were basically saying I looked really tired and terrible, which was great!"

Although she "in no way" compares herself to a doctor, she says she can relate to some of the aspects of life being well known, whether in a community setting or from afar as a TV actress, can bring.

Doctor Foster

"I think being a pillar of the community and everyone knowing you and everyone wanting to chat with you, there's parts of that which aren't dissimilar to being a well-known actress," she explains.

"I can be on the street or at a function, and equally people may be coming up to talk me, and you feel like you have to give attention to people and not be rude, so I relate to that."

While she doesn't know whether Doctor Foster is bound for a sequel, she would love to take another turn in spoof Charlie Brooker comedy A Touch Of Cloth, and is "in talks" about the recently announced three-part special of Scott & Bailey.

Knee-deep in a writing project with the production company behind the crime drama, she's pleased with the amount of choice available to her.

"Five or 10 years ago, we could be sitting here saying there are no roles for women," says Jones. "But nowadays, there are loads of roles for women, and I think Doctor Foster is very brave."

Doctor Foster begins on BBC One on Wednesday, September 9

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