Young Vets, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews
Young Vets, BBC Two
Young Vets, BBC Two
Watchable docu-soap provides plenty of cuddly pets to coo over
Britain, as Tamsin Greig’s soothing voiceover told us at the top of this hour, is a nation in love with its animals. Still, it’s unlikely that BBC Two is betting the house on this docu-soap, which will follow the lives of 10 students through their final year at the Royal Veterinary College and which is screening every night for the rest of this week. The cynic in me expects that the channel had a few too many episodes and not enough weeks before the next series of The Apprentice was due to begin.
Which is a bit of a shame because, although Young Vets is hardly reinventing the genre - unless tiny kittens in peril is your idea of teatime fun, in which case shame on you! - there’s nothing particularly unwatchable about the predominantly posh, predominantly youthful and predominantly good-looking students the series will follow through a series of quick-fire placements in private practice, small animal hospitals, horse farms and, if the trailer is to be believed, zoos. In fact, they’re a pretty likeable bunch. And did I mention that there are kittens?
The surgery was a tough watch for animal loversFirst in front of the camera was Judy Puddifoot, who as a mature student who is not blonde ticked off as many diversity boxes as the series was inclined to show at this early stage. While her approach to her new workplace was a little unconventional, consisting of behaving “as if you’re at your grandma’s house - game face on, all the time”, she quickly showed herself to be one of the most capable of the crew. By the end of the hour she was sterilising dogs, quite the thing. Bearing in mind the conventions of the genre, look out for her inevitable downfall in a couple of weeks’ time.
The enthusiasm of Elly Berry (pictured below right, with Morris the kitten) was verging on the inappropriate given that her first patient was a tiny Russian blue kitten with severe breathing difficulties, but given the animal’s big eyes and tiny limbs - all the better to catheterise, my dear - it was hard to blame her. The surgery was a tough watch for animal lovers, despite the inevitability of “better than George Clooney, and real” veterinarian Ian saving the day. There was no chance the BBC was going to stand back and let two kittens die before the watershed, after all.
Elsewhere there was a lesson in how to tell the sex of a rabbit, a Shetland pony with a bad case of colic and the sight of six-foot Charlie getting snapped at by a dog with bad skin who “just doesn’t like men”. Stationed at a busy PDSA branch, where up to 140 pets belonging to people on low incomes could be seen on an average day, the student ultimately felt he was “not really helping” his busy colleagues. As he explained it, his height and uniform gave him “all the atmosphere of a vet, to a dog, but none of the confidence” - making it a miracle he hadn’t been eaten by the end.
At the other end of the spectrum, Amy Clitheroe was helping out at some sort of horse hospital, both because learning to treat horses is part of the curriculum and because she had grown up around the animals. Colic, it seems, is the leading cause of premature death in domestic horses, and with surgery costing up to £7,000 it made my cat’s cardiologist bills seem like a trip out for papers and milk by comparison. Still, after seeing the size of the, um, blockage that had landed the pony in this episode under the surgeon’s knife, it seemed like a bargain - and thankfully, all was well in the end.
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