Hospitals aren’t, in general, sexy places to be. They’re sterile, bleak and relentlessly morbid. So it’s a good job then that the hospital in Monroe (and to be fair, every hospital drama ever created) is a hotbed of smouldering passions and barborous libidos, or the show wouldn’t be quite as stupidly enjoyable.
Episode four and, having slept with hospital ‘trolley-pusher’ Tatiana (of indiscriminate Eastern European origin), Monroe – a charismatic James Nesbitt – wakes to discover his estranged wife has removed one of the family portraits from the wall overnight. Meanwhile, Bremner (Sarah Parish), has abruptly halted her burgeoning relationship with Sheppard (Tom Riley) after Monroe lets on that he knows about their sexy ‘appointments’. So far, so ITV. There’s also the teenage boy admitted with a collapsed lung, whose two girlfriends constantly fawn over him when he’s not propositioning the female staff. Honestly, you half expect the hospital corridors to be illuminated with red-tinted lamps instead of stretch lighting, and the beds to be covered in leopard-print satin sheets. I was beginning to suspect that the receptionists weren’t checking patients details, they were on Chat Roulette.
There’s also a half-arsed subplot with a patient whose growing brain tumour has caused him to believe he’s talking to God, leading to some ‘big questions’ about science, medicine and religion, but Monroe can never really be bothered to stray from all the sexy stuff for long. The surgery scenes are sidelined, apart from some restrained (compared to Holby City’s gore level) but still toe-curling brain carvery.
With characters lifted from any and every medical drama – Monroe himself is a likeable House, hard-faced Bremner is Jordan from Scrubs – there’s enough wit and irreverance underneath them for Monroe to get away with its light fingers. It’s never quite going to land the emotional punch it wants to, but it misses with style.