This past month, Doctor Foster has made a welcome return to our TV screens.
Fans have been relishing in the drama of the BBC show’s second series, and have been waiting with baited breath to see what the controversial, and somewhat unruly, Dr Gemma is going to do next.
But although viewers have obviously been enjoying the dramatic and tense relations between Gemma and her scheming ex-husband Simon, there’s another aspect of Suranne Jones’ character that they haven’t failed to notice.
Many fans have picked on the increasing frequency with which Gemma often turns to an alcoholic drink, with plenty commenting on her seeming reliance on wine to get through her days.
And while some have joked about her drinking habit – exclaiming that it’s understandable given her tense relationship with Simon – health experts have commented on just how damaging the scenes of her excessive drinking could be.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a medical adviser at Drinkaware, has admitted that Gemma’s tendency to turn to wine in almost every stressful scene is a damaging portrayal for audiences.
She explained, “I am very sad to see a prime-time drama effectively sending out the message that it’s not possible to enjoy a social situation without alcohol being involved.
“This sort of portrayal normalises daily drinking, with all the risks this entails.”
Helena Conibear, director of The Alcohol Education Trust has also commented on the fact that Gemma’s booze habit shouldn’t be being portrayed as a “crutch for stress” – despite the drama’s highly fraught nature.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said, “Portraying alcohol as a way to cope with stress and pressure is worrying as is the image of drinking on your own.
“Both these behaviours can lead to problematic patterns of drinking and that one glass turning into two or three.
“A lot of younger teenagers watch Doctor Foster and we really need to think about the kind of image we’re portraying of professional adults in positions of responsibility and how they unwind and destress.”
However, it’s probably evident that the show’s writers actually aren’t attempting to portray Suranne’s character as an aspirational figure.
Many commenters on the show have noted how unstable Dr Gemma appears in the second series, with the character herself admitting that she wasn’t coping particularly well with the return of her cheating ex-husband to her town, Parminster.
If you suspect you, or someone you know, has a problem with alcohol misuse, the NHS provides guidelines to help you work out whether or not your drinking is becoming an issue.
On their website, they state, ‘You could be misusing alcohol if: you feel you should cut down on your drinking, other people have been criticising your drinking, you feel guilty or bad about your drinking, you need a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover.
‘Someone you know may be misusing alcohol if: they regularly exceed the lower-risk daily limit for alcohol, they’re sometimes unable to remember what happened the night before because of their drinking, they fail to do what was expected of them as a result of their drinking – for example, missing an appointment or work because of being drunk or hungover.’
If concerned, an ideal first step is a visit to your GP to work out what the best course of action is. Charity Alcohol Concern also run the national drink helpline, Drinkline. Contact them on 0300 123 1110.