Frankie (played by Myles) is the titular nurse who juggles a busy and affecting work life alongside her own domesticity with long-term partner Ian (Kelly), a local PC. Her work as a nurse sees a personal and caring approach to all her patients, leading to slight frictions with her work mates and disagreements with Frankie’s superiors. To blow off steam, the vivacious Welsh girl likes nothing better than some music at high volume, a glass of wine and the odd rambunctious dance.
This first instalment sees the lead-up to her 36th birthday with her loving boyfriend planning a special surprise for her (which she gets wind of) but her burgeoning work load and compassion for her patients means that she misses her own party, leaving a slightly disgruntled Ian.
As an opener, this is a cracking introduction to some well-conceived and brightly penned characters. Eve Myles absolutely shines in the titular role, bouncing from singing and dancing delirium to heartbreak and joy impressively. Her chats with BBC Radio 2 legend Ken Bruce will have you hooting with laughter. Like Gwen Cooper in Torchwood, it’s as if the part was written especially for the Welsh beauty.
Elsewhere, the cast are equally entertaining. Boyfriend Ian could easily have been an oafish or unlikable character but is sympathetic and engaging (especially given what he has to put up with); Dean Lennon Kelly is charming throughout. Derek Riddell (Garrow’s Law) plays Frankie’s work mate and friend Andy, again, with charm despite having to deal with her passions.
Ultimately, we see how people cope in difficult, very difficult situations; from the nurses themselves to their patients (and their families) to Frankie herself. There’s no politicisation of those in care – they’re portrayed as real humans who need assistance, both medical and social. Writer Gannon packs in some genuinely gasp-worthy shocks in such a short space but also delivers some laughs (including a very funny Doctor Who joke).
On the basis of this first episode, Frankie looks like it will be a massive mainstream success for BBC One, with all the elements to ensure its popularity – from humour to heartbreak and joy to sorrow all in one hour. It’s a show that will touch your soul and warm the heart.
Airs at 9pm on Tuesday 14 May 2013 on BBC One.
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