Rip, bust but no snort for doctor

Rodger Corser as Hugh Knight.
Alina Gozina

Rodger Corser as Hugh Knight.

OPINION: Yes, you can learn from the Australians. They have the answer to New Zealand's rural doctor shortage. 

Their solution is the basis of a new TV series. Dr Hugh Knight's surgical life is spiralling downwards and, in Doctor, Doctor (TV One, Wednesdays), he's banished to the sticks. 

While his behaviour isn't as bad as leaving his forceps inside a patient, he's out of control.   

He questions whether a "fat, sexist shock jock" should die on the operating table, taking his radio waves to Paradise FM. His wild night at a party sees him snorting cocaine and finding an unconscious woman in his apartment. 

Dr Knight has stuck his diag"nose" into other people's affairs once too often.

Yes, it's time for him to be rehabilitated, so he's placed on the impaired list and sent home to Whyhope in the back of beyond for 12 months. He'd be welcomed in Westport or Woodville as a rural doctor.

It's a good idea for a series and a relief from the violent garbage we view most nights. Dr Knight is appointed to the cottage hospital and told to shape up as a family GP. "A surgeon is someone touched by God; a doctor is someone who remembers a lot of stuff," he argues. 

His protest falls on deaf ears. Instead, he has to examine them. Hugh Knight becomes Dr Google and diagnoses everyone from a medical version of Wikipedia.

The episode is spent meeting old friends and family – an ambitious mum, an estranged dad and a relationship with an old flame (Charlie) that's still flickering. Doctor, Doctor is easy to watch and doesn't exhaust too many mid-week brain cells.

But Hugh Knight is incapable of overnight reform. He's still insufferable and intolerant and doesn't need Google to bonk a colleague's girlfriend on his desk. Perhaps he wouldn't be welcomed in Westport or Woodville.

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I have an issue with The Naked Choir (TV One, Sundays). Presenter Jeff Hunkin is a natural TV host and chooses eight a capella groups to find the best unaccompanied singers in New Zealand. 

But they all sound the same. A capella evolved out of the late 15th century and is immensely popular in barbershop circles in the United States. But I didn't hear any of that. I heard groups that suffered from a musical version of Tourette's disease.

Instead I watched, via YouTube, London Kiwis who arranged a fundraising concert for our own Anna Leese and her husband who's been struck down with motor neuron disease. As one of the numbers, they sang Hine E Hine unaccompanied.  That was beautiful a capella singing. I'm unsure whether Jeff Hunkin would know where to find it. 

Britain's Got Talent (TV One, Saturdays) was much easier to enjoy. A similar group of bizarre, talented and "off-their-meds" performers from last year lined up to impress the resident group of judges.

Simon Cowell is now sporting a beard that's gone beyond designer stubble to mown hay after the paddock's been ploughed. The hairbrush that Ned, the first contestant, used to practise with, should've been offered to groom him. 

Most contestants will never leave their day jobs but 15-year-old Sarah Ikumu was stunning. She sounded as if Whitney Houston had taken possession of her body. Sarah received the golden buzzer and will be back, as will the Missing Person's Choir created by people who'd lost a family member.

It was difficult to know how many were genuine cases as their ranks were mostly bolstered by friends, family, case workers, good singers and the guy who runs on to the field with magic water.

Hidden away on Vibe on Friday nights is Mr Selfridge. The year is 1928 and Harry Selfridge remains fancy-free and footloose. So footloose that he topples over the balcony when unveiling the Queen Of Time and injures himself.

Most of the familiar characters have returned for this final series, including Mr Crabbe and Mr Grove, who've turned boredom into an art form. They are tedious old farts. Harry is still playing the field but we know he's due for a fall. Just when you imagine the Wall Street crash will cause it, he topples instead.

It's the unexpected that makes Mr Selfridge such a colourful and enjoyable series. We wish him a speedy recovery. It would be dreadful if Crabbe or Grove or the Dolly sisters took over.

 - Stuff


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