Television review

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Never having been able to fathom the peculiar sexual appeal of Nigel Havers, it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I turned to the first part of The Heart Surgeon (Sun BBC1). The two-part drama, which concludes tonight, rests the entire plausibility of its plot on the assumption that this aristocratic actor is drop-dead gorgeous. Merely minutes after the opening credits had faded, a beautiful blonde was stripping off her clothes in the back of his flash car, ready to pleasure Alex, the good doctor. Unfortunately, though, in order to establish his credentials, this promising scene was interrupted by the mobile phone. "Hi, we've got an RTA just come in on the helicopter with a transected aorta," intoned a woman, sending him scuttling back to blue-gown land, and turning him into a medical hero at a stroke.

Back at the hospital, even in the operating theatre, every single colleague seemed more interested in his sex life than the patient on the table. Having heavy handedly established that he was Britain's most eligible bachelor, and marginally more sexually active than Don Juan, we were then presented with his dilemma. For, despite having society beauties falling at his feet, Alex was in love with his best friend's wife.

What followed was the old eternal triangle chestnut, dressed up with a few sub-ER scenes of medical derring-do. Marcella, the beautiful wife as played by Orla Brady, dropped into his beautiful glass-walled apartment and right into his lap. While worthy husband Larry (the fine Lorcan Cranitch) wrestled sheep back in Shropshire, the adulterous pair got to grips with each other's finer points. But the mobile phone, that handy modern substitute for the wretched messengers of old, was to bring bad tidings once more. While the gifted coronary surgeon was guiltily offering up his heart, the wronged best friend started having problems with his ticker. The obviousness of this plot device was not lost on Marcella, who, Catholic down to her manicured toes, moaned, "It's a judgement". When Larry, oblivious to their adultery, insisted that Alex be the one to perform his heart op, this hokum was simply carried to its logical conclusion.

That God is for life, and not just for Christmas was amply demonstrated by last night's Everyman (Sun, BBC1). Narrated by Kirsty Wark, "Costa del Soul" followed three Anglican vicars and their wives as they accompanied scores of pensioners to Benidorm for their winter holidays. Seeking sun, sand and Sanatogen, those who'd booked their "Young at Heart" breaks with Thomson holidays were also offered the possibility of religious counselling. Even on holiday, they were not allowed to forget that Jesus Christ is Our Lord and Saviour. The vicars did their best, organising prayer meetings that competed with the more blatantly advertised charms of "Sexyland" and "Sticky Vicky", excursions to vineyards and comedians who told off- colour, anti-clerical jokes. And their efforts did not go unrewarded. Seven of those holiday makers who fell ill gratefully received inspirational pamphlets, while one couple sought to renew their marriage vows on the occasion of their silver anniversary.

While offering some partial insights into what drove these vacationing evangelists, this film failed to explore adequately what the pensioners thought of having God in their midst. We were mostly shown those who approved, only being allowed to sense real dissent from a distance, as a group on a train merrily knocked back the vino while rendering a drunken version of "Onward Christian Soliders". You longed also to hear more from the wives. Sitting placidly by their husbands' sides, they only offered up the odd assenting comment, never venturing to voice an opinion of their own. It was only towards the end of the film that the logic of the exercise became obvious. As a rawly bereaved widow rocked back and forth in her sterile hotel room, the vicar on call gripped her hand and elicited the heart-breaking admission that her dead husband was "a lovely dancer". Clinging onto him for dear life, lost in a strange world, she found brief comfort.

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