The Supervet, Channel 4, review: Noel Fitzpatrick and his furry friends will leave you weeping

Noel Fitzpatrick is known as the Supervet
Noel Fitzpatrick is known as the Supervet - Channel 4

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, the Irish veterinary superhero, is back in The Supervet (Channel 4). As ever, watching him go about his work on television makes for a meeting of extremities. On the one hand this is your bog-standard show about the healing of cute pets. It’s cosy, it’s cuddly and it prompts you to weep grateful buckets when crocked cats and dogs go home to a happier existence. So far so Animal Hospital.

On the other hand it’s mind-bending credulity-stretching science fiction. Take Wobble. Wobble, rescued by Diane, is a whippet who came by the name after a spinal injury caused unsteadiness on her pins. An X-ray revealed compression on the spinal column thanks to a blow to the neck.

James Herriot would sigh and euthanise. So would Siegfried Farnon, maybe without the sigh. But Professor Fitzpatrick is from the future. He sliced Wobble open, fired up an angry-sounding drill, neatly inserted a bolt between minuscule bones, and then poured in surgical cement. Wobble, no longer wobbling, is now known as Minnie.

The good professor has the bedside manner of Fergal Keane, sugaring doomy reality with doses of broguish charm. “God bless,” he says with a stern twinkle as owners leave his consulting room. “Stay brave.” His hair can get horribly messy which, unlike for the last PM but two, seems somehow to upscale his trustworthiness. Not that Prof Noel doesn’t consider unhappy endings.

Pretzel the kitten is treated by the supervet
Pretzel the kitten is treated by the supervet - Channel 4

In hobbled a German shepherd called Bran on two front legs. Of the two rear ones, one was lost to a blunt-force injury and the other is dislocated and beyond use. Before he consented to fix that third leg, the supervet required the say-so of a panel. Might it be kinder to send him to the canine version of Switzerland? Needless to say, because this is not a programme that includes sad outcomes, Bran hopped home and is doing well.

The episode went big on rear legs. Enter Pretzel, a black and white kitten with a congenital flaw that means hers are crooked and pointing the wrong way. A previous owner dropped her off at another vet and left her to her fate. (Previous owners get a very bad rap in these stories of rescue, and rightly so.) Nicole, a kindly student nurse, took her on and crowd-funded the treatment.

They didn’t report this in the programme but Google says the op cost a modest 20 grand. It’s tricky describing what the supervet actually did next, because at the time I had my eyes closed, but it seemed to involve breaking her back ankles, rebuilding her tendons and holding the lot together with gizmos that looked part Nasa, part steampunk. Nicole was described as Pretzel’s “foster mum”.

This toe-curling reverse anthropomorphism which rebrands owners as parents seems to be an indelible thing now. “Two months later,” we heard, “Diane officially became Wobble’s mum.” It’s always mums. Cats and dogs never seem to have dads. Or not human ones. Next week, prepare for – sniff – a puppies special.