Liar, episode three review: revealing who was lying felt like it cheated viewers

I’d been enjoying the Williams brothers’ potboiler-ish thriller Liar (ITV). Admittedly, the torrid storyline and the manipulative insistence on introducing shock-horror twists into the plot at regular intervals sorely tested credibility in the two previous episodes. But it was a story that seemed rooted at least in contemporary, real-life concerns (as opposed to the brothers’ wilfully bonkers Rellik over on BBC One). More importantly, the theme on which everything turned – the ambiguity that can hang over date-rape allegations – was dramatised effectively.

Ioan Gruffudd as Andrew Earlham
Ioan Gruffudd as Andrew Earlham CREDIT: ITV

Thus far, that ambiguity had remained suspensefully intact. Pushing us first one way, then the other in terms of whom to believe – needy, emotionally unstable English teacher Laura Nielson (Joanne Froggatt) or handsome upstanding surgeon Andrew Earlham (Ioan Gruffudd) – as each new development unfolded. So it was in this episode, too, as Bristol head teacher Dennis Walters (Peter Davison) turned up to make good on last week’s cliffhanger ending, by revealing that Laura did indeed have “form” making allegations of this kind. She had destroyed his teaching career, he said, by accusing him of sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, Davison played his part with such enthusiastically seedy aplomb, that though Andrew and the two police detectives appeared to swallow his story wholesale, it was obvious to any viewer with a brain cell that he would be shown up to be a creep. So it proved. And that was the beginning of an unravelling process that by episode’s end had revealed in vivid detail the full truth of the case.

Ioan Gruffudd and Joanne Froggatt
Ioan Gruffudd and Joanne Froggatt CREDIT: ITV

As that was the only thing keeping me watching, this key revelation – that Andrew had deliberately drugged and raped Laura – coming just half way through the six-part series, somehow seemed like a massive cheat.

Of course, it remains to be seen where the story will go for the next three weeks, but I doubt I’ll be watching. The plot had already taken a number of turns for the preposterous, the most ludicrous of which involved Laura convincing Andrew to cover up for one of her pupils by lying to the girl’s father about the fact she’d taken an abortion pill. Thereby putting his reputation and future as a doctor in her hands, wouldn’t you think?

Even a potboiler has to be believable at some level. If this were a book, I’d have been tempted to sling it in the bin.

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