Human experiences

18 August 2017

BBC/Red/Mark Mainz

False identity: Jodie Whittaker as Ally in the BBC drama Trust Me

False identity: Jodie Whittaker as Ally in the BBC drama Trust Me

WE WERE given a preview of the BBC’s new Doctor in Trust Me (BBC1, Tuesday of last week). Jodie Whittaker played a single-parent nurse, Cath, who had lost her job at a Sheffield hospital because she led protests about patient care and staf­fing. A martyr for the cause, then.

But she proceeded to blot her moral copybook with an intriguing, if implausible, ruse. When her doctor friend, an A & E specialist, was leav­ing for a new life in New Zealand, she invited Cath to take anything of hers which she wanted. Cath didn’t fancy the clothes or furniture, but took something far more valuable: her identity and qual­­ifications. Armed with a new name and copies of her friend’s credentials, she took a job as an A & E doctor in Edinburgh and moved there with her daughter.

She just about survived, using the internet to check what to do next, and the nurses liked her. “You’d make a great nurse,” one said ad­­mir­ingly, as she put on a dressing. One fears for the next three epi­sodes. I do hope she doesn’t actually kill any­one. After this, Doctor Who should be a doddle.

In all the coverage of the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India, My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947 (BBC1, Wednesday of last week) offered us a heart-warming tale. It did it simply, by reducing this behemoth of a disaster into in­­tensely human experiences. Three people whose lives had been pro­foundly influenced by Partition went back to their family roots; one, as a child, had experienced the fear and hatred of the event, for the other two it was their families. Each of them had lived in Britain all of their adult lives.

The presenter, Anita Rani, was one of them, and she discovered the trauma that her grandparents, Hindus living in a Muslim com­mun­ity, had experienced in 1947. They had finally escaped in a small wooden boat towed by Muslim friends, a man and a boy. Anita dis­covered that the boy was still alive, and was able to thank him pers­onally, on behalf of her family.

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She was warmly received in the small village in Bangladesh, where her family had lived. Indeed, the most positive thing about the whole programme was the way in which these “returnees” were received — even the daughter of the wealthy colonialist who had lived in Calcutta and served on the city council.

While the world may be “torn apart by the ravages of sin” (as the prayer says), it is also enhanced by Channel 4’s contribu­tion to the fast-growing list of “Diana” pro­grammes, Princess Diana’s ‘Wicked’ Stepmother (C4, Thursday of last week). It wasn’t about Diana, but Raine Spen­cer, a barely credible character from a bygone era of matrimonially ac­­quired wealth and titles, wild parties, and a philistine approach to art and furnishing. And, yes, she happened to be Diana’s stepmother.

The conclusion of an entertaining hour was that she was possibly a bit wicked, but certainly great fun. I suppose it depends what you mean by “fun”.

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