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A lecturer, played by Katherine Kelly, gets more than she bargained for in ITV’s tense thriller – Cheat

A simple dispute over a university essay quickly escalates into a deadly feud between two women in a tense psychological thriller that plays out in four gripping parts this week.

With shows like Happy Valley and Mr Selfridge on her CV, Katherine Kelly is quietly becoming one of our best drama actors and here she plays Dr Leah Dale, a lecturer who underestimates a dangerous student.

Rising star Molly Windsor, who won a BAFTA for her role in Three Girls, is superb as Leah’s nemesis, 
Rose Vaughan, and with a fine supporting cast including Peter Firth and Humans star Tom Goodman-Hill, this twisting tale will keep viewers on the edge of the sofa.

TV Times rating: *****

Katherine, 39, and Molly, 21, tell TV Times what sets this series apart…

How would you describe the characters you play?

Katherine: Leah is a university professor in sociology. She’s from an academic household – her father Michael [Spooks star Peter Firth] 
is a recently retired university lecturer and she’s also married 
to an academic, Adam 
[Mr Selfridge’s Tom Goodman-Hill]. She studies theories and philosophies of human behaviour, but she doesn’t know much about life in practice. She’s lived her life in a bubble.

Molly: Rose is an intelligent and strong young woman, but she’s a bit of an outsider. She reckons she knows who Leah is and believes she can play with 
her a bit, but I think they both underestimate each other. Despite the power struggle going on between them, they’re
quite similar.

How does their relationship change over the series?

Katherine: Rose bursts Leah’s bubble and tests her in a way she’s never been tested before. At the start of the series, Leah is a fine, upstanding citizen, but as the story develops, you see what she’s made of. She does some questionable things. It’s not a standard cat-and-mouse thriller – it’s a cat-and-cat thriller!

Molly: We didn’t film together for the first few weeks, so our first scene was pretty intense. The script is amazing, it’s such a page-turner and the twists don’t land where you’d expect. It starts with academic deception, but quickly moves on and explores the theme of being a ‘cheat’ rather than a particular incident.

Cheat - shows Adam

Tom Goddman-Hill as Adam

Katherine, what can you tell us about Leah’s marriage to Adam?

Katherine: There’s a lot of tension in their marriage. Leah and Adam’s relationship ticks all the right boxes, but in practice they aren’t happy. They are trying to conceive, which forces them to have difficult conversations. Tom and I found it painfully awkward to play at times, but, luckily, we’re good friends after doing Mr Selfridge together!