It wasn’t a good start to a TV drama.
For a TV drama to work properly it has to have a smidgen of believe-ability, that is its watching audience has to sit there thinking “Oh yes, that could happen just like that”
Episode One of Series One of ITV’s “Wild At Heart” starts in 2006 with a Veterinary Surgeon being presented with an injured monkey in his surgery in Bristol, “Oh yes that could happen” thinks the viewing audience, so far so good, a little unlikely maybe but people keep monkeys as pets so yes, it could happen, maybe.
This particular monkey has been abandoned though and so the vet, Danny Trevanion, takes it home to nurse it post-operation, still OK so far and we’re ten minutes into the first episode, the monkey recovers well and then the vets wife says, “Why don’t we take it to Africa and set it free ?”.
Reality crumbles to dust, audience gasps at TV screen and screams in unison, “That wouldn’t happen you idiots”.
And so the beat goes on, the vet and his family take aforementioned monkey to Africa, monkey runs off into jungle and is never seen again, family take a two week holiday and buy an abandoned veterinary practice in the middle of the African bush, after the first series the vets family all bugger off back home again presumably to wind up the practice that the vet so carelessly left behind in Bristol without a second thought and the vet is left to run his new wild animal surgery all on his own without explaining exactly who it is that pays him to treat wild animals, wild animals by definition not actually being owned by anyone with ready cash to pay for expensive veterinary treatments.
Repeat for five more years and six more series, one hour every Sunday evening when nothing ever really happens to a British vet in Africa who seems to spend all of his time tending to wild animals, indeed he keeps cages full of wild animals in his back yard, and no-one seems to pay him for the care of these animals and nothing else seems to happen to him.
“Here Doctor, I found this Cheetah by the side of the road with a broken leg”
“Oh leave it there I’ll see to it later, do you have pet insurance ?”
“No, why should I have pet insurance ?”
“So I can treat your pets and charge the insurance company three times what I’d charge you for cash”
“But its not my Cheetah, I found it on the roadside”
“Well who’s going to pay me to fix it”
“Its a wild animal, you fix them for free around here, the last vet couldn’t make ends meet though”
Welcome to the world of Sunday evening drama, bland but pleasant, unpretentious, unbelievable, but inoffensive, nothing happens, nothing goes wrong that can’t be solved within that episode, no-one dies or is horribly eaten by wild animals and then its the News and bedtime.