Posts Tagged ‘Hamish Macbeth’

Chances are no matter where you live, at some point this summer, you have endured some pretty oppressive heat and humidity. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, dog days refers to the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere. The canine reference alludes to the heliacal rising of the Dog Star (Sirius) at this time of year.

So in order to help get your mind off your wilted, sweaty condition, I have gathered a collection of British telly “dog stars” for you to cuddle and adore, in that computer Facebook oohing and ahhing sort of way, of course.


Gromit – Wallace and Gromit

Tolerant of but noticeably brighter than his owner, Gromit is a multi-talented beagle, a Renaissance dog if you will.  He’s even good at sport:


GremlinDoc Martin

Dr. Ellingham abhors dogs and makes no secret of that fact.  (Ironically, Martin Clunes who plays the good doctor is a well-known dog lover.)  Dogs, however take a shine to him no matter how many times he turns them out from his house, car or just shoos them from his general vicinity.  Perhaps he unknowingly releases canine pheromones…


Gremlin, the loyal and persistant  image credit kcet.org

Gremlin, the loyal and persistant
image credit kcet.org

Gremlin, pictured above, was the Doc’s constant and unwanted chaperon for the first three series of the show until he passed away.  And though his replacement, Dodger, is undeniably adorable, Gremlin will always be my favorite as he reminds me of my Riley, a beloved dog I lost almost ten years ago.


Wee JockHamish MacBeth

A tenacious West Highland Terrier, Wee Jock was the steadfast companion of police officer, Hamish MacBeth.  The perfect combination of alarm dog and devoted friend, this pup was known to all in the village of Lochdubh.


Alas being the sidekick of a copper has its dangers and poor Jock was taken from his master in a hit and run accident.  A very sad day, especially for any dog lover.


IsisDownton Abbey

Isis - the epitome of the phrase "man's best friend"

Isis – the epitome of the phrase “man’s best friend”

Whenever I hear the opening strains of the Downton Abbey theme song, I can’t help but picture the wagging tail and hindquarters of a yellow lab walking next to its master – and it makes me smile.  In fact anytime Lord Grantham is at the estate, I take a quick look around for a glimpse of his ever present canine, Isis. With all the stress and chaos swirling around the Crawley clan, she never judges or abandons her master.

As gutting as the unfortunate deaths of Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley were, the plot line that genuinely worried me the most in all of Downtown Abbey history was when evil footman Thomas temporarily kidnapped Isis in order to get a promotion for “rescuing” her and proceeded to lose track of her all together.


K9Doctor Who

And finally, a dog you don’t have to house break, feed or teach new tricks.  Not very cuddly perhaps but K9 has many other useful  qualities.


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Never one to give up on a proposed series of posts, I am returning to the topic of lady killers on the telly.  In this installment, I will concentrate on those men with at least two women who simultaneously fancy them. Presumably a problem all men would like to have; however, these situations usually culminate in the women eventually forcing a decision because the man can’t seem to decide who to choose – although it’s always painfully clear to the audience which woman is “the one.”

Now I know my readers, all twelve of them, are very smart cookies, so let’s see if you can detect a pattern emerging from the following list of confused Casanovas:

1. Iain McCallum – Dr. McCallum is a motorcyle-riding (i.e. rebellious), forensic pathologist on staff at an East End hospital in London.  It has been some time since I watched this show so I can’t ensure all the details are correct.  Despite my fuzziness, I seem to remember that in the first series, McCallum has a live-in girlfriend named Joanna.  They have a history, an on-again, off-again relationship with not much trust between the couple, but they’re trying to make it work.  In the meantime, Iain works with this feisty yet likeable woman, Dr. Angela Maloney – not a slut or temptress by any means.  But it’s obvious she has more chemistry and more in common with our leading man than his dead-end girlfriend.  For the whole first series nothing happens between them but there’s something below the surface, something that makes me, as a woman at least, root for Dr. Angela.

SPOILER ALERT: By the end of the second and final series, the two pathologists finally admit their feelings for one another and take off for America, leaving the morgue in the lurch and this guy from Inspector Lynley to unimpressively fill McCallum’s surgical clogs.

Even though it was an obvious attempt at a spinoff, this oddball pilot episode was still part of the McCallum series.

Here’s the one McCallum clip I could find.  It’s a bit longer than I usually post and it takes place after Joanna is no longer in the frame, but it does put the doctor’s charismatic skills on display:

2. Dr. Macartney (from Green Wing)  – Mac, as he is known around East Hampton Hospital, is admired by everyone. He is a skilled surgeon whilst also being cool, clever and actually quite kind.  You know, he’s one of those “women want to be with him and men want to be him” types.  In series 1 (which is all I have watched thus far) Mac’s many female admirers include bizarre hospital HR lady, Sue White, obsessed with him and his strawberry lion’s mane of hair, and new girl in town, surgical registrar, Caroline Todd. Although Dr. Macartney has a girlfriend and, at first, Caroline is taken in by Mac’s friend/foe Doctor Guy Secretan, it’s clear Mac and Caroline are a true love match.  Between current romantic entanglements, past lovers, crazed and potentially homicidal hospital employees and their own adorable shyness will MacTodd ever become reality? (with fingers in my ears “la-lalala-la”):

3. Hamish Macbeth –  Hamish is a police constable in a northern Scottish village.  He likes where he is and is so against being promoted to a larger city that he sometimes gives credit to others for solving local crimes.  This clip has nothing to do with Hamish’s lady-killer status; I just love the cows and the music:

Now then, who will our modest policeman choose?  Alex Maclean, daughter of a former army major and landed gentleman, she and Hamish were once an item until she fled away to the big city in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a famous novelist.  Meanwhile, Isobel Sutherland is a tenacious reporter for the village newspaper with her life firmly anchored in Lochdubh.  Although Alex is leggy with long blond tresses and womanly wiles, Isobel bides her time and after an unfortunate accident, our intrepid reporter emerges victorious.

Isobel Sutherland – I know, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Moaning Myrtle. Alex’s accident always seemed suspicious to me.

Truth be told, I think Isobel actually came in second to Hamish’s West Highland Terrier, Wee Jock… and you can guess what happened to him, too.

4. Archie MacDonald  (Monarch of the Glen) – A young Highland aristocrat rushes home expecting to say goodbye to his dying father only to find he has been tricked into returning because his parents want him to take over their highly indebted estate.  Thus begins Archie’s new life as laird of Glenbogle.  As if rescuing the family castle and grounds isn’t enough, Archie has three women vying for his attention – his present girlfriend, Justine, with whom he runs a restaurant in London; local school teacher and activist, Katrina, who was a childhood friend of Archie’s sister; and Lexie, Glenbogle’s informal yet outspoken housekeeper and chef. Lexie is quite adept at turning men’s heads when needed but her heart really seems to belong to Archie.  Again, I’ve not gotten beyond series 2 but I can tell from on-line summaries and clips, Archie does finally settle down with one bonnie lass.  Here’s a clip featuring all three interested females:


So did you pick up on the pattern?  Ah, I knew you would, all you clever clogs.  It’s the Scottish connection – McCallum (John Hannah), Macbeth (Robert Carlyle), MacDonald (Alistair Mackenzie).  Okay, I was pushing it with Macartney (Julian Rhind-Tutt), but his character has a possibly Scottish name and he has ginger hair.  Some may suggest that it’s the mystery of what lurks in the lochs or beneath the Scotsman’s kilt, but there’s apparently something irresistible about a Scottish lad that makes the lasses get in line.

I like to think I know and I’ve been waiting for just the right post to share the secret.  Welcome to the Scottish Vacuum of Charm.  This too is a long-ish clip so you can enjoy the entire interview or just skip ahead to the 2:45 mark for the SVoC explanation:

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Doc Martin's Gremlin

I’ve heard it said that the British show more affection to their dogs and horses than to other people.  And while I know that’s not exactly true, I can relate.  I too am a big softy when it comes to animals.  Give me a dog to cuddle over a baby any day.  (Of course, my own children fall into an entirely different category).  If I’m watching a tv show or a movie, I’m more likely to sob if an animal is injured or dies than if harm comes to a human.  And don’t get me started on those desperately sad ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background.  In my house, everyone  knows to just turn the channel.

What I have found on British television is that most relationships with animals are of the utilitarian variety.   Farmers take good care of their sheep, cows, pigs, etc. because the livestock are their livelihood.  There is a sense of responsibility and respect for the animals, if not affection – unless you count Cranford‘s  Mrs. Forrester who dresses her cow in a long underwear type of garment and takes her on walks through town like a dog.  We observe this type of relationship through country vets like Siobhan Mehigan who serves the area around Ballykissangel.  You’ll likely find her on the road to local farms like Eamon Byrne’s to attend to his sheep – the real ones, not the plywood ones he uses to fool the authorities.  Then there’s the Yorkshire veterinary practice of the brothers Farnon and James Herriot from All Creatures Great and Small.  I’ve only watched a few episodes, but so far a litter of baby pigs, some sheep attacked by feral herding dogs, several sick cows and a pampered lapdog named Tricky Woo have been attended to by the capable Darrowby vets.  Alas, there is always an end to these human/animal affiliations whether it be due to accident, age or well…  harvesting of the end product.  You know it’s coming and though the farmers are matter of fact about the lives of their animals you can see appreciation and sometimes sadness as they make the decision to say goodbye.  I could never be a farmer, can you tell?

Then there are loyal canine friends like Wee Jock, Constable Hamish Macbeth‘s West Highland Terrier.  Beware there is a tragic storyline for Wee Jock, so if you are softhearted like me, prepare yourself.  James Herriot has Dan, the black lab, to accompany him on farm calls.  Then there’s Doc Martin.  He has a constant companion that he doesn’t want.  From the moment he shows up in Port Wenn, there is an adorable scraggly mutt at his doorstep who keeps coming back no matter how many times Martin shoos him away.  You keep hoping the Doc will soften and take this animal who is so attached to him into his heart…but as you get to know Martin Ellingham you realize it’s more complicated than that.  (The ironic thing is that Martin Clunes, the actor who plays the doc, is a renowned dog lover!)

So do Brits love their animals more than Americans do?  Probably not, but there is certainly an affinity for four-legged friends in the UK.  They are enjoyed and perhaps more often used for their intended purpose (herding, hunting, mousers, etc.) than in the US and that probably makes any animal happier. I guess that means I need to find a place where my dog Malcolm can actually take a real swim, and not just in the baby pool we bought for him.  He deserves to be all the lab he can be.

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At some point in my youth, I had heard that police officers in London carried billy clubs as their only weapon.  “What a country!”, I thought, “where even in their largest metropolis, it was considered unnecessary for law enforcement to carry firearms.”  To this day, apparently, ordinary beat officers are not usually armed or even trained in the use of such weapons, though some exceptions exist.

Detective/special agent programs abound in the UK  and they are very good at producing that genre. In fact they are so popular that PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery features them regularly.  But for the moment, I want to focus on the good old uniformed police officers and how they are portrayed in British television. 

Let’s start with the small village police officer.  They are dedicated men who take their duties seriously.  While the villagers they protect often discount their diligence, when they are needed, these brave officers come through for their friends and neighbors. 

1) Garda Ambrose Egan from Ballykissangel is a stickler when it comes to the law.  While sometimes bumbling in his personal life, he is calm and clear-headed whether he is enforcing village traffic laws or going undercover to break up a drug ring in a biker bar.

2) Doc Martin’s PCs Mylow and Penhale protect Portwenn with good intentions though their diligence can be sidetracked by scheming women in the case of the former and various medical and mental disorders in the case of the latter.  But in their minds, police work defines who they are and they are always on the lookout for law breakers.

3)  Hamish Macbeth of Lochdubh, on the other hand, is a different type of  small town police officer.  He is actually more normal than most everyone else in his village.  He keeps the peace just fine without being terribly concerned with details of the law.  And he often gives credit to others for solving crimes in order to avoid being promoted out of Lochdubh.

The Thin Blue Line follows an entire police department through their daily routines in the town of Gasforth.  As mentioned in the previous examples, Inspector Fowler (Rowan Atkinson) is dedicated to his job and performs his duties earnestly.  His subordinates are a diverse group and there is a definite rivalry between the uniformed police and CID (Criminal Investigation Department) aka plain clothes detectives.  The cocky detectives don’t always do things by the book, and in those situations, the tried and true men and women in blue triumph, if only by accident.

Hot Fuzz is a film and not a tv series, but I want to mention it anyway, because I love Simon Pegg movies and because it is a hilarious take on the work of police officers in the UK.  PC Nicholas Angel is such a perfect law enforcement officer that he is making the rest of the London force look bad.  Therefore the powers that be send him to the seemingly idyllic village of Sanford.  Once there he is mocked for being suspicious of the many accidents that are claiming villagers on a nearly daily basis.  Throw in a dash of American police buddy movie violence and the ending is like nothing you would expect from a proper British bobby. 

I have not watched any British police dramas of the Hill Street Blues variety, so I can only gather my impressions from the comedies.  Yes, these characters resemble Barney Fife at times, but I think that they are endearing jabs at a profession and the people who protect us on a daily basis.

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I know that I am definitely going to be out of my depth on this topic so right up front I invite those of you who are more knowledgable about the UK healthcare system to chime right in.  But as the title of my blog suggests, I am going to discuss what I have gleaned by watching British television, so here goes.

First of all, there is the concept of the village GP, one doctor responsible for the entire population of a small town.  The physician sees people in his/her surgery (office) and can make house calls or emergency visits when required.  Hospitals in the larger towns nearby serve these villages and ambulances always seem to be about a half hour’s trip away.  (Having a volunteer fire department located in my own town makes me a little nervous!)

Ballykissangel has kind, discrete and reliable Dr. Michael Ryan.  Hamish Macbeth‘s Lochdubh has philosophical, serene Doc Brown, a healer of all creatures, even the occasional West Highland Terrier.  It makes you wonder what’s in that ubiquitous pipe of his.  Then there’s Doc Martin of Portwenn.  Formerly a surgeon from London, Dr. Martin Ellingham has developed a blood phobia which has driven him from the operating room to a friendly, quirky village in Cornwall.  His rude, socially inept manner doesn’t serve him well with conscious patients, but he does know his stuff and quite often saves the day as he rushes, rather awkwardly, from one incident to another.  In series two, he is visited by a Physician’s Friend, an official from the National Health Service who is investigating patient complaints about Doc Martin’s bedside manner, or lack thereof, and threatens to remove him from his post. 

In the bigger cities, of course, medical personnel and facilities aren’t spread so thin.  In the Irish program, The Clinic, this Dublin practice consists of two GPs, the Drs. Costello, plus  a counselor, a physiotherapist, a homeopath, a nurse and a plastic surgeon who rents a consulting room.  I like this holistic approach, but I don’t know if you often find this variety of medical practitioners in one real clinic.  The premise, however, offers many paths for storylines to develop.  With an office staff of three, this practice is abuzz every moment.  Patients with appointments, people showing up unannounced; everyone eventually gets squeezed into the schedule and treated.  Plus there’s sex, drugs and plenty of drinking in the pub.

While still considered more alternative in America, William and Mary‘s Mary Gilcrest is a midwife. Based out of a London hospital, she attends home and hospital births and works with expectant mothers to make their birthing experiences as positive as possible.  Mary does encounter administrative reprimands for her methods at times and therefore considers going into private practice with some other midwives.  Whether midwives and homeopaths are considered mainstream in the UK or they just make compelling television characters, I don’t know, but the dedication of these characters is certainly universal.

Nationalized healthcare is a very emotional topic in this country at the moment.  Meanwhile the UK has recently celebrated the 60th year of the National Health Service.  I don’t begin to pretend to understand all the intricacies of a government-run healthcare system.  But I do like the intention behind it; the belief that health of each individual citizen contributes to the good of society.  Britain’s NHS might not be perfect but I applaud the effort.

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