Are you ready for a psychological thriller? Because ITV is about to deliver one of the best dramas they've had going for a long time. Buckle up because we've got four days of intense, absorbing television to consume.
Cheat follows the wild and difficult relationship between a university professor and one of her students. Katherine Kelly stars as Dr Leah Dale, a promising academic who's long prided herself on her integrity, rigour and following the rules. Her father previously taught at the same university and she's up for a coveted, permanent teaching position. Before anything even happens, we know she has a lot to play for. Not to mention that she's trying for a baby with her partner but also fantasising about shagging one of her colleagues while masturbating in the toilets. As the first episode gets going, though, she's delivering a lecture on power dynamics for a module called Coercions. The tone for what's to follow is efficiently, if not so subtly, set.
Molly Windsor plays Rose Vaughan, a distant yet curious young woman who gives off the impression that she doesn't really care about the whole university thing. She turns up late, has a reputation for not engaging with the lessons and it's likely she's not often challenged because her wealthy father donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to renovate a building on campus. There's something unnerving lingering behind her eyes, and you'll be nervous about her potential even before she starts getting into any trouble. The turning point is when Rose hands in her dissertation. Leah is suspicious that the essay is far too good to be Rose's own work, while Rose of course says that she wrote it. At the very last minute, just before the grades are sent out, Leah decides to fail her, which Rose takes as a personal attack and quickly schemes how to get her own back. "You don't know what I'm capable of," Rose tells Leah when she dares to challenge the dissertation's authorship.
From there, it all gets really bloody sinister. Each woman becomes entirely consumed by the other – Leah determined to prove that Rose is a cheat and Rose fixated on getting her own back. Before they know it they're diving into a black hole of destructive behaviour, with dangerous consequences. There's a scene where the pair sit opposite each other, separated by a glass wall. It very much looks like they're speaking in prison, but it's not clear who's the inmate and who's the visitor. What could have happened to warrant jail time? All because of a plagiarised essay? The trailer gives away the police investigation – there's blood on the floor, a zipped bodybag and the investigating officers don't seem to have gotten to the bottom of it either. Nervous? Us too. If there's one thing we're sure of, it's that there's little Rose won't do for vengeance.
Cheat runs from Monday to Thursday, showing on ITV One at 9pm each night