The Children’s Hospital
BBC Scotland, Wednesday night 

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in Edinburgh’s children’s hospitals when
the latest crisis hit over delays, rising costs, and the cancelled opening.

Or in Glasgow, where a child cancer ward had to be shut to new admissions after three patients contracted infections. 

Instead, of all the children’s hospitals in all the towns in all of Scotland, this new eight-parter on BBC Scotland was set in the one with no problems: the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital. 

A case of poor choice, bad luck (from a news point of view), or just how it has to be with this sort of series? 

Hospital documentaries have been long been a television staple. The genre, particularly where children are concerned, generally conforms to unspoken rules, the most important of which is that stories should end happily. The alternative hardly bears thinking about, never mind watching. 

As for missing the breaking news in Edinburgh and Glasgow, newspapers, and in time current affairs programmes, are there to take up the slack.

In any event, it was good to see a prime time series set outwith the Central Belt. 

Tern Television, the Glasgow/Aberdeen/Belfast-based maker of everything from Beechgrove to Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, did not mess with a winning formula in this first episode.

As an added bonus it had hired David Tennant to narrate. 

One might have thought Tennant’s “serious” narrating gigs would have been thinner on the ground given his sterling work on the BBC mockumentary W1A, but he seems busier than ever. 

The first visit to the hospital yielded enough in the way of drama, and there was a well-handled tiptoe into delicate territory when we met Jack, now four.

He had a liver transplant at the age of three weeks. His mother paid tribute to the selflessness of the donor’s family, saying she would be “forever grateful” for what they had done.

The words said much; her face said more. 

Jack now has to have regular blood tests, which means needles. And needles, understandably enough, are not Jack’s favourite things.

To calm and reassure him, play specialist Maureen was helping Jack make a book about his hospital visits.

They had a practice without a needle, and Bruno the teddy got in on the act too, taking a jag for the team. “I’m not going to cry,” said Jack. 
“I’m really brave.” 

There were more brave hearts on display in the case of Oscar, three, who had cataracts in both eyes. His mother and father had waited through the first op, every minute feeling like an hour, and could not wait for this one to be over. 

Mr Scott, the ophthalmologist, asked Oscar if he could have a look at his eyes. Oscar promptly opened his mouth wide.

Mr Scott played along, having a pretend look before moving on to the peepers. 

Later, Oscar discovered that hospital floors, like those at any good wedding reception, were pretty ace for sliding across. Safe to say, Oscar was chillaxed about his upcoming op, unlike his parents. 

It was a tricky time, too, for Mr Scott as the cataract refused to budge. “Bit more of a fiddle than an adult cataract,” he said with winning understatement as an operation meant to last one hour moved into a second. He got there in the end, as we knew he would. 

Ten days later Oscar was back for a check-up and the most important part of the whole procedure, as far as he was concerned – the ceremonial pinning on of the sticker. He deserved it.