Doctor Who-elect Jodie Whittaker fakes it as a doctor in Trust Me: 'I'm not great with gore!'

(Image credit: BBC/Red/Mark Mainz)

Before she steps into the TARDIS as the new Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker told us all about playing a fake doctor in upcoming BBC1 thriller Trust Me...

Jodie plays hardworking nurse Cath Hardacre in BBC1’s identity-theft thriller Trust Me. After being pushed out of her job for whistle-blowing, Cath decides to steal her best friend’s identity as a senior NHS doctor and begin a new life in Edinburgh with her daughter. But how far will Cath go to stop her old life ruining her fresh start?

An incredibly realistic Emergency Department was recreated inside a disused building on a business park in Glasgow. In March, before the big Doctor Who announcement, TV Times sat down for a chat with the bubbly, down-to-earth Jodie

Tell us more about Cath… "At the beginning, Cath’s living in Sheffield, she separated from her daughter’s dad, and working within the NHS as a Sister on a cardiology ward. Things happen at work that should be investigated and Cath has a big decision – whether to take that information to a media outlet or take it to the Hospital Trust? She goes to the Trust, but is then scapegoated out and is seen as a whistle-blower. So she’s left in this terrifying situation where she hasn’t got any support or a career."

What plan does she come up with? "Cath takes the identity of her best friend, a senior NHS doctor, who is emigrating to New Zealand. It’s funny because we’re all in a world now of Facebook and Twitter and you think: how does someone get away with living a life that isn’t their own? But if you Google the idea, you find lots of really famous cases, even with some people doing interviews in the media as not the right person – that’s some real confidence there!

"However, Cath is continually trying to go under the radar, but inevitably she forms some relationships…"

People put a lot of trust in the medical profession, so are you worried how viewers will react to Cath’s decision to pretend to be a doctor? "The reason I took the role is because it’s a morally grey area and that’s fascinating to play. People who make difficult choices, right choices, wrong choices, aren’t necessarily bad people. I think you should challenge your views and the characters you are behind. Every character I want to play has to go somewhere that I haven’t been before."

What preparation did you do into the medical profession? "We spent four hours going around a hospital in Edinburgh with a consultant; it was amazing seeing it from the inside. Going behind the reception desk was fascinating. We asked how they knew when something was serious and they said you can just tell – someone has a look, a colour missing, or a certain smell. It was also interesting seeing the nurses' station; there’s so much movement within it, which was vital for us to recreate."

Did you do any other research? "Yes, I watched 24 Hours In A&E – it’s a tough watch, isn’t it? I’m not great with any kind of gore. We have real doctors and nurses on set to guide us, and when they tell us how things would feel, I’m like 'Eugh'! I’m an absolute wimp, but the good thing is that if I go slightly wrong when I’m stitching a leg up, I’m not hurting anyone. This is a really fascinating world to be in, especially as I’ve never been in a medical drama or had to say grown-up words before!"

How did you find the medical jargon? "When we do any trauma scenes, I’m actually quite good at the choreography of them – who knew! I’m also good at putting in a cannula! In rehearsals, Dan [Sefton, writer] bought everything in from his training days and showed us how to do it. He then asked if I wanted to try putting a cannula in his arm. I’m quite competitive, so I was like, 'Yeah I can do it!' Dan has good veins and I did it in one go. However, I accidentally dropped the stopper off the back and there was blood everywhere – so that’s where I went wrong!"

Trust Me premieres on Tuesday, August 8, on BBC1 at 9pm

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.