An exciting whodunnit drama which keeps you guessing until the very end - and for a long time after.
TV dramas bring the nation together. Shows like Bodyguard and Killing Eve get people talking, with their dramatic plot lines that keep us guessing until the very end. Cheat, which aired across 4 nights on ITV, came from the people behind the 2017 hit Liar, which at the time saw over 8 million viewers tune in each night. Cheat was billed as having a similar ‘whodunnit’ structure, so I was very excited to see what would happen.
This drama is set at Cambridge University and revolves around the conflict between lecturer Dr Leah Dale, played by Katherine Kelly, and her student Rose Vaughan, played by Molly Windsor. It arises when Leah reads Rose’s dissertation and believes that she was not the one who wrote it, as the ideas within it didn’t sound like hers, so she marks it as a fail. As she makes it very clear that Rose never participates in lecturers or seminars, you have to wonder how Leah knows this. Equally, this is an issue that could have been solved if they had TurnItIn or another plagiarism detection software, but of course this is a drama so there is no such thing; they do later on, however, have a GPS tracker app on their phones for a cat without a collar. Strange world. There are many strange things about this world, in fact. For example, Rose turns up to Leah’s house with some work to give her in the middle of the night – Leah isn’t in, but her husband (also a Cambridge lecturer) is, and rather than really questioning a) why she was there or b) how she knew where they lived, he instead offers her a drink (how very professional). Adam, played by Kelly’s former Mr Selfridge co-star Tom Goodman-Hill, is a pretty annoying guy – it feels like he does everything we don’t want him to do.
The acting in this is absolutely brilliant. Rose is completely obsessed with Leah, and Molly Windsor’s portrayal of her is chilling. That’s what makes this so watchable – she is able to lie and manipulate so convincingly that we begin to doubt Leah and second guess her every move. However, of all the whodunnit dramas out there, this isn’t the most difficult to work out, and I had guessed it correctly by the end of the first episode; however, there are other twists and turns in the plot which are a lot harder to see coming.
ITV cleverly spread this drama over 4 nights rather than 4 weeks, as any wait between episodes just seemed too long. Without spoiling the ending, though, there were a few too many plot holes for my liking that made this slightly unconvincing. For example, Rose is very close to the college porter, Ben, and he seems to drive a the plot on several occasions – however, without any kind of backstory, it just feels confusing as to why he would constantly go out of his way to help her. Like the other aspects I mentioned earlier, it feels at times that the writers had to shoehorn things in to keep the plot going without much explanation or context – we never even find out whether Rose cheated on her dissertation; it was simply a vehicle to get Leah to start interacting with her. There is talk of a second series, so hopefully that will clear a few things up.
Nonetheless, this was a brilliantly engaging drama with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, even though some aspects seem a bit too farfetched even for a TV drama.
Cheat is available to stream on ITV Player until April 13th 2019.