The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s4 ep 9; s4 ep 10


In the first of this season (series?) ending double-bill, we start with the morning after Hugh’s less-than-pleasant behaviour at his own kind-of-surprise birthday party. He wakes up, of course, at Penny’s, and is promptly – and physically – thrown out by Jarrod. I don’t much care for Jarrod. (Although he has a bit of a point: maybe not at this precise moment, but in general.) Betty provides another bed for Hugh, and then explains the facts of life to him: if he keeps behaving like this, ultimately no-one will want to have anything to do with him, and perhaps he could start by seeking forgiveness from everyone. As ever in her quieter scenes, Belinda Bromilow nails it. Gosh, she’s good.

At least Penny, Hugh, and Jarrod don’t need to worry about The Pretty Titty, which is casting a huge, bosom-shaped shadow across Whyhope and its residents. Meryl is getting the blame for allowing it to be opened, and eventually collapses under the stress. Rod offers Hayley a job as manager, which she takes without telling Ajax, on the basis that they need the money and Ajax is kind of an idiot, who has already issued an ultimatum regarding Hayley’s hobby. “It’s me or the pole!” he declaims. Given that choice, I for one would be hanging upside down trying to execute a  Half Flag Invert. But given that Hayley’s management MO involves regular prayer meetings, and an insistence that there will be no “disrespectful and objectifying behaviour” – I mean, I don’t disagree in principle, but then I’m not running a titty bar – the crowds start to migrate to Charlie and Matt’s bar, where they’ve hired “himpies”, including Hugh and Ken, to cavort for the benefit of the patrons. Ajax, however, is long gone.

Penny, meantime, spends most of this and the next episode wanting Hugh to tell her again that he loves her, preferably this time sober. We’ll get to that in due course. At the end of this episode, though, she’s out late, driving, and demanding to know if Hugh meant it, which is what I had in mind when saying that Jarrod has a point. Hugh can’t get to clarify his position, because at that precise moment Penny is involved in a car crash.

And so to the season finale: I wondered whether it was going to be suggested that Penny was distracted and caused the crash, but apart from a throwaway reference to the driver of the other car maybe having fallen asleep at the wheel the cause remains unexplored. Nor are the physical consequences terrible: Penny has a cracked rib or two but is essentially fine (there’s a scene in which she’s being examined by one Dr Hugh Knight, about which the less said the better, I think), and the occupants of the other car all live as well.

Jarrod, however, has really had enough of waiting for Penny to get over Hugh: he’s been offered a job in Broome (which, according to my highly uncertain knowledge of Australian geography, is about as far away from Whyhope’s nominal location as it’s possible to get); he’s going to take it; and he wants Penny to come with him, which she agrees to do. Hugh’s response to this is to immediately sign a three-year contract to take over as hospital administratior, for which he rightly gets accused of being manipulative. And I’ve said this before, but one of this show’s strengths is its reluctance to give Hugh a pass on his behaviour. He’s much more than a loveable bad boy, and in particular he has quite a cruel streak; he knows what Penny wants to hear, and he’s going to make her – and us – wait for it.

We get there in the end, though: yes, he was drunk; yes, he loves Penny. But what about her? How does she feel? “I love you!” she blurts out, somewhat stunned that he would even wonder about that. It’s all moot, though, because she flies off to go and join Jarrod. I half-expected her to be standing on the runway after the plane took off, but no. She’s gone. 

In fact, the final few scenes had the feeling of a farewell: as well as Penny heading for Broome and Jarrod, Matt and Charlie are off travelling; the Pretty Titty burns down; Ajax goes to college; and Hugh sits, alone, at the boss’s desk in the hospital. I’m ride-or-die for the Hugh/Penny ship, but would it ever work out between them? (YEAH it would.)

Given the contortions involved in funding this season, I wonder whether this is the last we’re going to see of the Whyhope crew. In which case the show at least checked out while it was in a good place. Even though creator and original writer Tony McNamara (who is also Mr Belinda Bromilow) has moved onto bigger and better things – specifically, co-writing the screenplay for The Favourite, for which he won a BAFTA and was nominated for an Oscar – I thought this might have been the best season since the first.

The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s4 ep 7; s4 ep 8


In the first of these two episodes, Tara requires to provide a urine sample as part of her probation. This is… suboptimal, given the amount of partying she’s been doing, and so Hugh – ever-understanding of someone who doesn’t want to take sobriety entirely seriously – swaps in some of Eliza’s. They get away with it, for now, but in fact this is the beginning of the end for Tara, and although her unravelling has been coming for a while, I didn’t think it would have quite the ending it does.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Although Ken catches Hugh and Tara pashing (I think I can call it that when discussing an Australian drama) in the hospital, and dobs them in to Penny, who perhaps as a newly-wed woman shouldn’t care quite as much as she does, Tara then pulls off a phenomenal save when she and Hugh are called to the house of Maggie, a pregnant woman who’s had an unfortunate encounter with a chainsaw. Both mother and baby are in considerable danger, but Tara – choking back a panic attack – keeps them both alive. She then, though, goes home alone, mixes alcohol and drugs (both prescribed and unprescribed) and passes out. It’s only when she doesn’t turn up for work the next day that Hugh realises something might be wrong, and has to break into her house to try and revive her.

Meantime, though, the world keeps turning. Meryl signs off on Rod Eagle’s lifelong dream of a topless bar in Whyhope: the Pretty Titty. This is good news for Jarrod’s FIFOs, if for no-one else. Hayley, at a loose end, what with the joblessness, the caravan-dwelling, and the useless husband, is invited by Ken to come with him to his pole-dancing class. (This seems curiously on-brand for Ken.) At first she resists, but then goes along and… she’s a natural. I intended to make a frivolous suggestion about how, with a topless bar opening in the area, she might find work there. But it may not be so frivolous after all. And Charlie and Matt’s inevitable reunion gathers pace.

The episode ends with Penny making a late night call to Hugh. Just to talk, you understand. But Jarrod is more and more turning out to be a wrong ‘un as the series unfolds – he may be hiding the environmental consequences of his stupid mine, and his company’s sudden gift  to the hospital of a piece of expensive equipment is fooling no-one, least of all Penny. So what happens if you marry the “safe” choice and start to regret it? Well, to start with you phone your dangerous ex.

In episode 8, though, Penny’s love life is the least of her concerns: her latest doctor recruit, Tara, is lying comatose in her own hospital, and Hugh is at least partly to blame. He then compounds that by going round to Tara’s house and trying to clear it of incriminating substances, but as he’s walking out of the door with a rucksack full of pills, white powders, and half-empty bottles, he’s interrupted by Tara’s parents, who were called by Penny because of the state of health of their daughter. And they are (a) pretty poisonous, and (b) entirely mystified about what’s going on: their daughter, they assert, is a high achiever who doesn’t drink, isn’t on prescribed medication, doesn’t take drugs, doesn’t have PTSD, and certainly isn’t on probation in a backwater town because of her problems. They need to be put right about quite a lot of that.

Fortunately Tara regains consciousness, but her parents take her away from Whyhope, and it looks permanent rather than temporary. If that’s the case it’s a big loss for the show: Tara has been an unexpectedly complicated and sympathetic presence, and Kate Jenkinson has done an excellent job.

It all comes to a head at a kind of surprise 40th birthday party for Hugh, to which he turns up already stupendously drunk. There’s a point at which this sort of behaviour becomes problematic rather than funny, and no-one’s smiling. Meryl is in a bad mood because she had demanded the presence of her sons at dinner, and none of them came. Imperious as ever, she compares herself to King Lear, although she hasn’t quite worked out yet that the common factor in her bad relationships with her sons is… her. Ajax, who doesn’t know about the pole dancing, thinks Hayley’s cheating on him. But with who, he asked Matt earlier? “Someone who doesn’t live in a caravan!” shouts Matt. Having checked Hayley’s phone, though – another great Hugh idea – he’s convinced it’s Ken, and challenges him to a fight. Ken and Hayley would be… amusing. “It does”, muses Hugh of Hayley’s hobby, “fit with the trailer park lifestyle”. Actually, Hayley needs to get out of that marriage stat. 

And Hugh himself is consumed with an unpleasant mix of bombast and self-loathing: he knows, as Penny told him earlier, that he ruins everything he touches, but at the same time he’s far too good for Whyhope. But this all feels as if it might have gone too far for him to be forgiven. Or has he? Penny, to Jarrod’s visible discomfiture, brings Hugh home to their house, there being nowhere else for him to go, and pours him into bed. “I love you, Penny. But you know that already”, he mumbles as she’s leaving the room. Oh yeah, she knows it. So: toxic Hugh, or boring (and possibly planet-killing) Jarrod? Two episodes to go, and I thought this one was the best of the season so far.

The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s4 ep 5; s4 ep 6

In the first of these two episodes Penny, now married and therefore – can we be clear? –  totally over Hugh, seems remarkably reluctant, nonetheless, to go on honeymoon with Jarrod. So he keeps himself busy by importing some FIFOs to work in his mine, who for insurance purposes need to be drug tested. One, Robbo, still has one or two things in his system which shouldn’t be there, but Hugh decides he can be benevolent and test him again in a couple of weeks. In return, Robbo is invited to source some “supplies” for Hugh, who clearly feels the need of something to lift his mood after Penny’s marriage, and Robbo and Hugh are joined by Charlie and Tara for a debauched night out. Hugh still seems to me to be at his happiest – or, at any rate, his most uncomplicated happiest – when Charlie is there, and I won’t be budged on that.

It’s all unravelling for Hugh, though: Dinah sees him with a bag of white powder, and deciding that he’s not fit to be a father to her grandchild abducts Eliza and heads to the airport. Meryl stops this, but agrees with Dinah’s general point, so kicks Hugh out until he’s ready to behave himself. Which means that Hugh suddenly has nowhere to go, and has to crash in a disused ward at the hospital. A ward which Charlie is also sleeping in, having very much failed to leave town, despite keeping saying that she’s leaving town.

All of which complicates life for everyone else. Penny eventually admits to Jarrod that she and Hugh kissed before the wedding. Jarrod takes it better rather better than, perhaps, he should. “Why do I let you keep fucking up my life?” Penny demands of Hugh, to which there is no good answer, other than that she’s still in love with him. And April becomes increasingly concerned about Charlie’s ongoing and, apparently, eternal presence in Whyhope.

All of this bubbles over in episode 6, which is a cracker. April finds out that she’s pregnant, but by the time Hugh comes to examine her she’s had an early miscarriage. Penny returns from honeymoon – yes, she finally made it – to discover Hugh and Charlie’s sleeping arrangements. (Which remain platonic. Boo.) She kicks them out. Unusually, there’s some actual medical work to be done as well: Amelia, a former nurse, has brought her son in, but seems to Tara to be attaching herself to Hugh, and doing what she can to keep her son in the hospital as long as she can. So Tara eventually sends the two of them home, believing there to be little wrong with the boy. We’ve all seen enough medical dramas to know what’s going to happen, and it does.

Meantime, though, Meryl has some political manoeuvring to do. There is no greater admirer of Meryl’s will-to-power than me, and as I’ve said before there is little doubt that she would make the trains run on time. Assuming, that is, there’s something in it for her. But does she not perhaps need another hobby? Anyway, this week she discovers some minor malfeasance by her rival, Mayor Nancy Miller, and leverages that into Nancy’s resignation so that she, Meryl, can become Mayor. Well done, Meryl. Now what? Will it make you happy? I dunno: I think there’s a Jim-shaped void in her life at the moment, and it doesn’t help that, one by one, her children are being alienated. (Ajax and Hayley have moved into a caravan. The evident fact that they married way too young is being exposed week by week; Hayley is not a caravan-dwelling sort of gal, as far as I can see.) 

First on Meryl’s to-do list might be planning permission for a hostel for Jarrod’s FIFOs, who have not made a great impression on the locals. To alleviate this, everyone decides to play a game of netball – Clinic vs FIFOs. God knows why. The game is an easy enough win for the clinic, although both Jarrod and Matt use this avowedly non-contact sport as an excuse to bodyslam Hugh: Jarrod because of the whole Penny thing, and Matt because he’s pissed about the miscarriage, pissed at Charlie, pissed because Hugh’s sleeping in the same room as Charlie, pissed at the whole damn world. And April’s fury on arriving at the netball game to see Charlie warming up – yes, April, she’s still here – is quite something. 

Well, this can’t go on, and it doesn’t. April asks Matt to pick her, and he can’t, presumably because he’s nowhere near getting over Charlie. So they split up, although given that the last we saw of Charlie was her preparing – finally? – to leave town, I wonder whether it’s too late. Which means that Matt has an empty house and a half-finished nursery, just ready for Hugh and Eliza to move in. I don’t see that as an arrangement which will last forever – there’s a lot of ill feeling between Hugh and Matt, mostly on Matt’s side and mostly justified – but it at least means Hugh can get his daughter back from Meryl.

The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s4 ep 3; s4 ep 4


The mother-who-turns-up is a common plot device, and it’s a long way from being my favourite one. Fair’s fair, though: The Heart Guy, in producing Harriet’s mother Dinah, at least gives it a bit of a twist. Obviously she’s a pest, although there’s a game-recognise-game moment when it looks as if she and Meryl might bond. Only a moment, though: Meryl will in due course try to chase her away.

Although Dinah is, ostensibly, in town to see her granddaughter – I suspect an international child abduction is coming in an episode or two, but who can say? – it also means that she’s there for the local election, in which Meryl is trying to win a council seat in order that she can push through her plans to assist the cemetery. It being Meryl, she’s hardly going to be content with a modest, understated, may-the-best-person win sort of campaign. Her main opponent is the widower of the previous incumbent, and in order to split the anti-Meryl vote she prevails on Ajax to run as well, while Hayley remains her campaign head. But when Ajax overhears Meryl referring to him as a “dummy candidate” he realises that he’s being treated as a means to an end, and suddenly turns into a plain-speaking populist running against the elites. “Make Whyhope great again!” he bellows at a hustings. The Tim Tam Trump, if you will. Betty, still smarting from the way in which Meryl removed Darren from her life, allies herself with Ajax. (Belinda Bromilow is, incidentally, really good in these episodes: quite often she’s required to play slightly broad, so her performance – almost catatonic with grief to start with, shifting to quietly vengeful – is quite something.)

Inevitably, by the end of episode 4 Meryl will have triumphed, although you do wonder whether something has been awakened in farmboy Ajax. But there’s a lot of emotional business to be transacted before that. Matt sacks the young chef that Charlie slept with, meaning that the two of them need to work together to cater to the hustings. Then Charlie insists that she has writers’ block, and can only write at the desk in the house she used to share with Matt, where of course April now resides. Of course she has, and of course she must. This means that Charlie has to wait until April has left for the day, then sneak in. It obviously won’t end well, and doesn’t. Thing is, Charlie’s still very visibly in love with Matt, and April – although undoubtedly cute – is… kinda annoying? So, Matt, what gives? “You broke my heart”, he regretfully explains to Charlie; which, in my book, is good enough.

But what of the ship we’re all here for? Well, Hugh is doing a reasonably good job of feigning indifference to the ongoing Penny/Jarrod liaison. In fact, he even provides medical services to Jarrod twice in one episode: first when Jarrod requests a fertility test to ensure that his boys can still do the necessary; then, still in the same department, when Jarrod sustains a trauma to Beavis and Butthead. But none of this shifts the needle; he even sleeps with Tara after she has a panic attack during a complicated childbirth.

Then, though, Penny and Jarrod agree to speed up their wedding. And suddenly Ken and Betty – both also shipping Henny, as far as I can see – put Hugh on the spot. What, Hugh, are you going to do? Well, first of all he kisses Penny. WHO TOTALLY KISSES HIM BACK. Then he decides that he needs to make a declaration, so he rushes round to Penny’s house to tell her not to marry Jarrod. But… it’s too late! Penny and Jarrod got married in secret. Oh dear. The upshot of all of this, of course, is that only Jarrod and April are satisfied, more or less, with the current state of play: Hugh, Matt, Penny, and Charlie all, one way or another, have some thinking to do. I still want that to involve a Hugh/Charlie hookup, incidentally, and I don’t know that I’ll be truly happy until that eventuates. That apart, though, two entirely satisfactory episodes.

The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) s4 ep 1; s4 ep 2


I’m still not quite sure of the basis on which episodes 1 and 2 of The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) were shown in the UK before Australia. But why should I care? Particularly as the first episode – grading, admittedly, on a Heart Guy curve – was actually, properly good: a lesson in what you can do with an established cast, a couple of new characters, plenty of plot, and a little imagination.

The action in ‘Hugh Am I?’ has jumped forward a year or so, to Hugh’s daughter Eliza’s first birthday, and fortunately Hugh’s stupid ex-wife appears to be very much out of the picture. The newbies are mine manager Jarrod (Dustin Clare), who is also Penny’s boyfriend – my Hugh/Penny ship is still on the rocks – and doctor Tara (Kate Jenkinson), who is on probation for, it seems, roughly the same reasons as Hugh was: drink, drugs, general fun. And Charlie – no longer in a state of up-the-duff radiance – is back; she and Matt aren’t actually divorced yet, but he’s very much with April.

The main story is a business deal to benefit the clinic by… well, if I’m being honest I didn’t really follow what it was about, but at the end Hugh turns up to a big important meeting still hungover from partying with Tara and that pharmaceutical rep who turns up every now and again, and compensating for that with a quick sniff of cocaine on his way out of the door. The upshot – and again, I didn’t quite follow this – is that he’s rich, but the deal isn’t as good. Penny intimates that she’ll never forgive Hugh, and to be honest it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep the ship afloat.

Penny, meantime, was the reluctant recipient of a public proposal of marriage from Jarrod – honestly, I’d make those things illegal – which she felt obliged to accept, being as most of Whyhope was there to see it. She then breaks it off, but when Hugh lets her down changes her mind again and gets engaged.

If the first episode was an exercise in throwing all the pieces up in the air, the second, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, allowed them to land. The whatever-it-is deal allows Hugh to pay off the debt on the family farm, but also leads to his getting sacked by Penny. He heads to Sydney looking for work, but everyone has heard about him turning up high at an important meeting. So back to Whyhope, where he practises farming while stoned. Then local hypochondriac Bruno suddenly needs heart surgery, and Hugh’s your guy for that: Penny brings him in, he talks Tara through the procedure, and gets himself rehired. Simple as that. She’s still engaged to Jarrod, mind you, and she can stop that any time she likes; I’d thought Jarrod was just going to be a speedbump, clinically excised during the first episode. Maybe not.

Charlie – now a successful author – wants to get back with Matt, but he declines. It’s quite a choice he has, I’ll give you that: Charlie or April? If I can’t get Hugh and Penny as a couple, mind you, I wouldn’t mind seeing the chaos that a quick Hugh/Charlie hookup would bring in its wake (I’ve long held the view that they might be the show’s OTC, in a weird sort of way), and at one point it looks as if I might get my wish, but she instead has a swift bunk-up with the new chef at Matt’s bar.

And I haven’t even got into Meryl and her ruthless realpolitiking yet, if that’s what you call it when you hand over a lunchbox full of cash money with the intention of getting your way. When the recipient dies Meryl tries to get her bribe back, but it’s ended up in the hands of corrupt cop Darren, who’s used it to buy a gift for Betty. Oh dear, oh dear. Telling Darren that he needs to pony up, and thus breaking Betty’s heart, isn’t the sort of thing that’s going to get in Meryl’s way.

The second episode isn’t quite as good as the first, for my money. But, taken together, both are ridiculously enjoyable. And, or did I imagine this, just a little raunchier and swearier than before?

Public Service Announcement 64 of 2019: The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor)

When I first saw reports that season 4 of The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor) was about to start in the UK, I’ll admit I was dismissive of them: I’m a big enough fan of this medical drama to be keeping tabs on where it’s at in its native Australia, and I was aware that it wasn’t going to be shown there before 2020. Hey-ho, I thought; someone’s got confused about a season 3 repeat, or something, and we probably won’t see any new episodes for at least a year.

Well, I was wrong about all of that. All of it. It turns out that we in Britain are getting a world premiere of season 4 right here and now, and Australian audiences will still have to wait until next year. The reason given by its native broadcaster, Nine, for this is less than convincing to me – something to do with funding and its alleged popularity in the UK – but as I’ve said before I don’t need to be an expert on the business of TV to be a viewer, and anyway I don’t care.

Much as I love this show, mind you, I had two problems with the third season. The first was that I simply didn’t believe in the way that independent, single parent career woman Dr Penny Cartwright (the refulgent Hayley McElhinney) fell to pieces because of her foundering romance with reformed-bad-boy Dr Hugh Knight (Rodger Corser). But that might just be because Hugh isn’t my type; I’d probably fall to pieces if the possibility of a relationship with Dr Cartwright were snatched away from me. Secondly, I’m afraid that I was quite unable to get to grips with the detectably pregnant Nicole da Silva playing a character who was quite insistent that she didn’t ever want to have kids. Da Silva is an excellent actor, but she couldn’t square that circle. Or maybe that one, too, is on me.

Anyway. Bottom line is that the Whyhope crew is BACK with a double-bill at 10pm NEXT SATURDAY, on Drama, and I am both surprised and delighted. I might even review a few episodes this time, given that we’re not months behind everyone else. And, for the avoidance of doubt, I am still RIDE-OR-DIE for the Penny/Hugh ship.

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.