Yep, Rolf Harris is back with a brand new series all about our four-legged friends getting ill and then getting better. Of course, that got us thinking about another series we used to adore. You're probably way ahead of us, but just in case you're not, let's make it clear - Tube Talk Gold is checking into Animal Hospital this week!
Animal Hospital: Originally broadcast from 1994 to 2004
Animal Hospital is one of those shows it seems like everyone has seen; the programme did last for ten years, after all, and was a fixture of many a teatime (weirdly, because it could get quite gruesome). But actually, the show was cancelled a whole eight years ago. Think about all those poor, deprived primary school children who've never seen Rolf peering over a vet's shoulder during a tricky operation.
It's impossible to say why exactly Animal Hospital became such a hit during its decade on screen, but they do always say that we're a country of animal lovers. And this was a show devoted to taking sick, cute little puppies and making them better. What's not to like?
Of course, things didn't always go that swimmingly. Plenty of beloved pets didn't make it, and it would take a hard heart not to dissolve into a puddle of tear-soaked tissues when the vets delivered the bad news. And when Rolf Harris got upset, it was all over.
Ahh, Rolf. Animal Hospital would surely have been nothing without its stalwart host, who was never scared of getting involved. Rolf's gentle Aussie accent was perfect for every occasion, whether it was comforting a sobbing 7-year-old or congratulating a family on their hamster's survival. And he was very good at hovering in the background, offering help whenever it was needed.
But they do say never work with children or animals. The best thing about Animal Hospital was that it could be seriously unpredictable. Animals don't like going to the vet at the best of times; add a bunch of cameras and who knows how they'll react. So whether it was a sickly snake or a grumpy guinea pig, there was always the chance that the unlucky patients would decide to lash out.
Mainly, though, Animal Hospital had a warm feeling about it - even when things didn't go the animals' way, Rolf was there to make us feel comforted. Who knows how many people decided on veterinary careers after watching the show? (I know I have a scribbled drawing saying that I wanted to be a vet, presumably prompted by watching the programme.) And surely it introduced a whole bunch of kids to the idea of death - which sounds morbid, but is actually a pretty impressive thought.
I don't know if I'd be able to watch the show as an adult - it could get pretty bloody and gory as well as very emotional - but as a kid it was fascinating. Still, the show had a big grown-up audience, too, so when poor abandoned dog Snowy appeared on the programme, over 30,000 viewers offered to adopt her. Now, isn't that sweet?
The surgery itself became loved, too - Harmsworth Memorial Hospital in London was the original setting for the programme, and what many people think of when they remember the show now. The cast of unfailingly kind and careful and generally lovely vets that appeared on the show in their green polo shirts were also adored. If the show aired now, you'd probably have to find out all about their backstories and there'd be 'wacky' characters for us to watch. But on Animal Hospital, they were just concerned with quietly doing their jobs well, whether or not the cameras were hanging about.
Animal Hospital sparked a trend, with shows like Vet School and the kids' hedgehog-based series St Tiggywinkles coming along at around the same time. For a while, you could barely get through a primetime schedule without bumping into sickly pets and friendly vets.
So, let us all raise a toast to the Harmsworth Memorial Hospital, Rolf, the vets and all those families that let us see their beloved animals getting better or going to the furry place in the sky. Surely, we all bonded as a nation over the cute little fluffy things.
You can actually still buy Animal Hospital on something called a "VHS tape" (no, us neither), but if you tune into Animal Clinic next week to get your Rolf-and-cute-creatures fix, we won't tell anyone...
Did you like watching Animal Hospital? Do you have any favourite memories? Let us know below!