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Making TV series was a positive experience for us, say Caithness vets


By Jean Gunn

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Guy Gordon says making The Highland Vet 'has been a fun and enriching experience'. The first six episodes of the series will run on Monday at 9pm on 5Select until July 20. Picture: Daisybeck Studios / 5Select / MCG
Guy Gordon says making The Highland Vet 'has been a fun and enriching experience'. The first six episodes of the series will run on Monday at 9pm on 5Select until July 20. Picture: Daisybeck Studios / 5Select / MCG

The Caithness stars of The Highland Vet have said that making the hit TV programme was a positive experience.

The 12-part documentary series is centred around the busy Thurso veterinary practice of DS McGregor & Partners and the staff have been enjoying a bit of fame since the first episode was screened three weeks ago.

It is shown on Monday nights at 9pm on 5Select, with filming having taken place during winter and early spring.

Looking back to the airing of the first programme, on June 15, vet and practice director Guy Gordon (51) said: “The day after we had people phoning in – not necessarily because they had a problem, just to say they saw the show and it was great.

“The episodes are painting us in a genuine light and making the county look good. It is only positives that have come from it.”

Guy was seen rushing home from a last-minute call-out in the first episode to go dancing with his wife – they are members of Thurso, Come Dancing. “There was a quip about my dancing,” he said.

Vet Shondie Maclean (29), who has been making regular appearances on the show, said: “I have really enjoyed the whole experience and really enjoyed seeing it. It has all been a positive.”

Her mum and dad are among the many who are loving the programme and have been stopped in the street by people saying they saw Shondie on the telly.

Shondie Maclean faced the most dramatic case of her career in the first episode of The Highland Vet. Picture: Daisybeck Studios / 5Select / MCG
Shondie Maclean faced the most dramatic case of her career in the first episode of The Highland Vet. Picture: Daisybeck Studios / 5Select / MCG

Those starring in the series are also getting used to people saying things like "you're famous now" and asking for autographs. TV presenters Jeremy Vine and Lorraine Kelly are among those who have declared themselves fans of the show, which is narrated by Downton Abbey star Phyllis Logan.

Guy explained that he had been in two minds whether it would be awkward working with the cameras.

“I am really glad we said yes to it,” he said. “It has been a really enriching experience – to see our local countryside on national television is great. They have done a really good job, portraying us really well.”

He admitted: “It was a bit nerve-racking when the cameras first appeared. You are very self-conscious initially.

“I found I got used to it – you gradually relax into it. That is really what they are after – you focus on doing your job.”

Shondie said: “I was really apprehensive at first and my answer at first was a 'no'. What changed my mind was I thought a lot of these vet programmes were male-orientated – it would be nice to see a young lassie vet.

“The first couple of times were a bit nerve-racking. The camera crew definitely put you at ease. At the end they were part of the team, just like the rest of us.

“I quite enjoyed getting filmed. You have to get used to the way you position yourself."

While agreeing that vet programmes often featured males, Guy said he hoped the show would inspire young men to take up the profession as there appeared to be a predominance of girls at vet schools now.

Reflecting on the experience, he said: “The one thing I got used to was the fact you are trying to explain to this invisible thing, which will ultimately be the British public, what you are doing.”

He added that he found being questioned while doing his job useful as a professional tool, saying: “A bit of self-analysis does not go amiss.”

In Monday’s episode Shondie will deal with a couple of after-hours calls concerning lambing problems, which will feature local farmer Susan McAdie, of Bowertower, and Marie Macdonald, of Achvarasdal, both making late-night trips to the surgery.

Guy will be seen attending to Kaiser, a very forgiving Weimaraner from Spittal, who gets recurrent skin tumours, while local vet Bridget Holt will be making her screen debut treating a cute young pig.

Twelve one-hour programmes have been filmed, with the first six episodes due to come to an end on July 20. The production team will be taking a break over the summer, coming back in the autumn for the final six shows.



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