Public Service Announcement 18 of 2019: The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor), Tutti Frutti

Well. I am VERY excited by the return tonight of Australian medical drama The Heart Guy – Doctor Doctor in its home country – for its third season. (It’s been renewed for a fourth, incidentally.) Its virtues are old-fashioned: decent plotting; a bit of redemption for the trying-not-to-be-a-bad-boy lead character; a notably strong cast, in particular Rodger Corser, Hayley McElhinney, and Nicole da Silva; and a proper ship that we can all get behind. While continuing to emphasise that this show will not change your life, I like it quite a lot, and the s3 trailer above suggests that we’re going to get at least some of what we want (Drama, 8pm).

I should probably have mentioned before now that BBC Scotland is repeating Tutti Frutti, which for many of us of a certain age is one of the defining comedy-dramas of its time. Brilliantly written, and with a cast to die for – Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Wilson, Maurice Roëves, and Katy Murphy – it hasn’t been shown on TV for the best part of 30 years, probably due to some licensing problem or other. I equivocated for a while about rewatching it, but ultimately decided that I was quite happy to live with my memories of the show, rather than risk spoiling them. I did, however, catch a couple of minutes the other night, from which it was instantly apparent that the person writing the subtitles is successfully eliminating all of the poetry, beauty, and humour from the dialogue. Well done, whoever you are (Saturday nights, 9pm).


The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s2


I LOVE The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor in its native Australia), and I have now watched every episode of both seasons, although if you’re on UK broadcast schedule there are still a few to go.

So if anyone wants a spoilery discussion of the first two seasons I am HERE FOR YOU, including but by no means limited to questions such as:

· Are Hayley and Ajax too young to be getting married? Yes, although the proposal was sweet, as was the wedding: in particular their dance routine to ‘Green Light’

· Does Charlie’s novel sound any good? Nope.

· Ken and Mia (#Kia, I suppose) or Ken and Betty (#Ketty)? I don’t quite see why Ken and anyone, but he clearly has something.

· Would we want Hugh’s amoral mother as the Mayor of our town? You know what? I think we might. The trains would run on time, even if she were skimming something from the ticket prices.

· Did we like Hugh’s wife? No we did NOT. #stupidestrangedwife

· Were we SCREAMING at the TV when Hugh was about to come round from the anaesthetic, and Penny stepped away for a moment, and his #stupidestrangedwife totally slipped into the room JUST as he was waking up? We all know the answer to that.

· The biggie: are we shipping Hugh and Penny? YES. YES we are. We are shipping them HARD.

· Despite that – and here’s a controversial one – is it possible that, even though it’s not going to happen, Hugh and Charlie are MFEO? I think we need to give that consideration.

· Do we want to see the season 3 trailer? Oh, I think so:

· And was that… KISSING?! Looked like it to me.

· Should CJ be watching this? Yes she should. Please tell her.

Public Service Announcement 22 of 2018: The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor), Atlanta

The first season of The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor in its native Australia) has just finished, and I am TREMENDOUSLY excited by the news that UK broadcaster Drama is taking us straight into season 2, because I LOVE THIS SHOW. Faced with a flimsy and, indeed, familiar premise – doctor is required to return to the small town he did his best to escape – the writers and actors have made the very most of it. 

In particular, although the show was trailed on the basis that lead character Dr Hugh Knight (Rodger Corser) was a roguish – yet lovable! – bad boy surgeon, the show has refused to give him a pass on the worst of his behaviour: his appalling treatment of nurse Aoife (Shalom Brune-Franklin) was rightly regarded with disdain by his hospital colleagues; the way in which he has blown up his brother’s marriage verges on the wantonly cruel; and his complicated relationship with his adopted brother Ajax (Matt Castley) has developed in unexpected ways, most of which don’t necessarily reflect very well on Hugh.

The show’s morality is also more complex than it might at first appear. In the crucial ninth episode, for example, widowed Penny (the excellent Hayley McElhinney) woke up in bed with a younger man who turned out to be still at school (but of age). Rather than treating this as an appalling scandal everyone concerned just got on with life, with Penny having to endure no more or less than the appropriate amount of giggling prurience from her colleagues. On the other hand, Hugh was ultimately persuaded to help to end the life of one of the show’s main characters, something from which I thought the show would move on quickly, but which in fact turned out to be pivotal in the season finale.

Let’s not kid, though: one of my main reasons for watching is that I am shipping Hugh and Penny hard. VERY HARD INDEED. And so should you (tonight, Drama, 8pm; season 1 still available on demand).

The big TV news of the weekend, though, is probably the return of Atlanta for its second season. The rise of niche auteur-driven TV shows has revealed that some people (such as Rachel Bloom and, yes, Louis C.K.) have an unfair amount of talent. It may be that Donald Glover, the creator/exec producer/star/writer/director of Atlanta, has more talent than all of them. Season 1 was one of the most uncategorisable yet amazing things I’ve seen in recent years, and the critical response to the second season would suggest that, if anything, it’s even better (tonight, FOX UK, 10pm).

The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s1 ep 1

In this pilot episode of The Heart Guy (known in its native Australia as Doctor Doctor) brilliant but hard-living Sydney surgeon Hugh Knight is hauled before some sort of internal discipline tribunal (?) for an impropriety which will be detailed in flashback later on, although it really just looks as if the hospital hierarchy was looking for a reason to get rid of its gak-loving party boy for a while. Anyway, for his “year of atonement” (?), Hugh is sent to the small country town of Whyhope, which also – not coincidentally – is the town he grew up in and later moved away from, to work as a general medical practitioner. In fact, he’s allowed to do everything except surgery.

So there are two things going on here: firstly, there’s the familiar arrogant-doc-brought-down-to-size storyline; secondly, there’s the equally familiar escapee-from-rural-backwater-goes-home storyline. And in the context of both there is a large cast of characters with which we need to get familiar. In the hospital there’s sparky nurse Aoife (Shalom Brune-Franklin); youthful and thin-skinned administrator Ken (Charles Wu); and my favourite character for now, Penny (Hayley McElhinney), Hugh’s supervisor, who already has his measure. I don’t know if we’re expected to ship them or not, but if we are I’m totally on board.

And on the family side there’s his mother Meryl (Tina Bursill), a local councillor who isn’t above taking a bribe; taciturn father Jim (Steve Bisley); younger brother Matt (Ryan Johnson); and Matt’s wife/partner Charlie (Nicole da Silva), who is playing the essential role of the Childhood Sweetheart He Walked Out On. This ship I’d be… not quite as keen on.

I… liked this, I guess? It’s billed as a comedy although, for now, it’s of the type which raises the occasional smile rather than provoking hysterical laughter. But it’s charming, it looks good, and the acting – in particular from McElhinney and da Silva – is better than it needs to be. Apparently the whole season is now available for (ew) bingeing, but I think one a week will do me.