Did we like it?
It’s not clever; it’s sickeningly full of ITV’s favourite feelgood formula and stock characters; but Tamzin Outhwaite carries this new drama series superbly and there’s already enough momentum to make it worth following.
What was good about it?
• Tamzin Outhwaite hasn’t put a foot wrong since leaving Albert Square (Hotel Babylon may have been dire but she wasn’t) and, once again, she shows she can carry a show. There’s none of Caroline Quentin’s tiresome harassed mum routine. Instead, Tamzin portrays Rhoda Bradley as a woman with determination and she does it so well we can actually believe the preposterous idea that a mum of three (it’s always three isn’t it?) is going to achieve her dream: giving up scanning fish fingers at Rydon’s supermarket and taking up scanning brains at St Anne’s Hospital
• Anton Lesser was also brilliant as the head of clinical studies Dr Lindsay, TV’s most curmudgeonly doctor since Dr Kelso in Scrubs
• Although we knew all along Rhoda would win a place in medical school, the story was played out well with the lovely Mercy (the lovely Yvonne Brewster) paving her way, the officious Dr Lindsay blocking her way – until she convinced him that experience of her son’s cystic fibrosis, her daughter’s measles, tonsillitis and appendicitis, her mother’s difficult menopause and her grandfather’s difficult nature had given her some expertise in obstetrics, paediatrics, gynaecology, geriatrics, psychiatry and chronic disease.
• The teenage kids – rat-owning Lexie and coughing bike-mad Jason – were well drawn. Jason passing his motorbike test wasn’t much of a sub-plot, but there was much fun to be had from Lexie’s retribution against her bolshy PE teacher which culminated in her gifting her a chocolate cake with extracted appendix blended into the mix.
• Two good villains: Mandy (Brooke Kinsella talking a bit posh) whose big tits and degree in retail management enabled her to pip Rhoda to the assistant manager’s job at the supermarket; and Rhoda’s jealous sister Maddy (Beth Goddard talking a bit common).
• The theme song – Go My Own Way by Alexis Strum – is appealing in a Natalie Imbrugliaish way.
• Shaun Dooley managed to be a negligent hit and run driver in The Street at exactly the same time as he was doing his rounds as a medical student in Vital Signs.
• Fraser Ayres who played Clint in The Smoking Room turned up playing exactly the same character with exactly the same ponytail, except he’s now called Vinnie and he’s a medical student. (As he donned his white coat for the first time, he asked: “Does this say Harley Street doctor or Halal butcher?” Good joke.)
What was bad about it?
• The opening credits which tried to emulate the look of a trashy novel, juxtaposing medical equipment with domestic paraphernalia. There was a stethoscope with a kid’s crayon drawing, a chopping board with a syringe etc. We’d have liked to have seen a proctoscope alongside garlic crusher. The way the title was spelt out in fridge magnet letters was also somewhat naff.
• The inevitable reaction of Rhoda’s husband Tony to her plan to study for five years – a bit of resistance followed by reluctant acceptance followed by huge pride.
• We still get a Thursday night nicotine fix on ITV1. Tanya Turner may be off our screens, but Rhoda puffs away, too.