Dr No gazed in open-mouthed if not toothless wonder as the first episode of Frankie (BBC1) unfolded last night. Not content to be the life and soul of the party, Frankie, a SuperNurse for the time being on the district beat, is the life and soul of the known universe. In a script that pasted it on like a bricklayer mortaring a wall, Frankie was given lines to assist even the dimmest viewer to a full comprehension of Frankie’s awesome powers. When cutbacks have ordinary doctors and nurses quivering, what does Frankie do? Why, she laughs at the cuts! When a cut of a literal sort threatens to come her way in the hands of a demented war veteran, she turns the other cheek. Nothing is beyond the toothless wonder’s extraordinary powers. When a child arrests in her car, Frankie becomes paramedic and then emergency ambulance driver; later, she turns her hand to a spot of midwifery. Dr No suspects Frankie has a fold-up operating theatre in the boot of her car, and in later episodes will turn her hand to a spot of surgery. Nothing is beyond Frankie for, as she told at least one gagging viewer, ‘the world is her patient’. When not fixing the world, Frankie likes to turn up the stereo, and dance, turning the show into a musical: Frankie Goes To Bollywood. Truly, nothing is beyond Frankie, but then, Dr No supposes, that is what happens when you have done Torchwood. Even Captain Jack has been turned into a shadow of his former self, a hapless plod who’s always got the wood, but never gets his way, because every time he gets his pecker out, Frankie’s away.
Such are the plot lines, which came out like toothpaste from a tube, propelled by an invisible hand. That hand, Dr No can now reveal, is none other than that of a Department of Health propagandist. Another ploy in the BBC’s covert mission to nuke the NHS, Frankie is Auntie’s attempt to get a vision of a dumbed down health service in through the back door, by having Frankie go in through a lot of front doors. Commissioned by a DoH/GMC/NMC cabal, the series brief is to depict Frankie as the nation’s favourite noctor, vibrant and capable, against a clapped out harridan GP who forever moans about moaning patients. Played by Jemma Redgrave as a failed experiment in auto-botox, Dr Evans is presented as the nation’s stereotypical cynical GP. A dry stick of arrogance and negativity to Frankie’s warm winking eye and welcoming bosom, the message is clear: why put up with Dr Nevans when Frankie’s around? Half close your eyes, and lose Frankie’s nursing uniform, and what we then see is not a nurse, or even a noctor, but a doctor at work. That is what the BBC and the dead hand of the DoH/GMC/NMC cabal behind the series want us to see: Frankie the nurse as Frankie the doctor. Anything Nevans can do, Frankie can do better, and more warmly to boot. It is but a short step to disposing of Nevans, a tiresome expensive hang-over from a former age. The future isn’t Nevans, or even orange: it’s Frankie. As the show came to a close, Dr No still stared at screen in open-mouthed if not toothless wonder, asking himself: how in Heaven’s name did they get away with that: a prime time show so lightweight its feet never touched the ground, yet still carrying such a heavy and deadly payload?