Vital Signs

That question about discovering NZ featured in last week’s ep of Vital Signs. The main character, Rhoda, has arranged a pub quiz and 2 teams get into a bit of an ugly conflict over the question/answer to “Who discovered NZ? The answer given by the quiz master was either “Captain Cook” or “James Cook” – can’t remember which. But one team gave the first answer and the other the second. One team said that the rules of the quiz were that a team had to have exactly the same answer as the quiz master to be marked correct. So one team got the point and the other didn’t?????

Leaving aside the problem of the term “discover”, are all the facts in this prog equally well researched?

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Vital Signs

Rhoda Bradley (Tamzin Outhwaite, ‘Hotel Babylon’) is a working-class mum with a dead-end supermarket job who sets her sights on becoming a doctor.

Tuesday 14 November, 9.30pm, TV One

‘Vital Signs’ (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE) follows Rhoda’s progress as she deals with difficult doctors, irascible patients and her first corpse. She also has to juggle her studies with working part-time in the supermarket and the demands of being a wife and mum.

Tamzin Outhwaite admits she would be filled with fear if she had to go back to school like Rhoda.

“The idea of going back to school and revising for exams would be hellish. As an actor my form of revising is learning scenes, but to start going through biology, chemistry and all of those sciences would be just a nightmare,” says Tamzin.

“Sciences were not my favourite subjects at school. I preferred English, drama, music and history. The revision thing put the fear in me. The idea that your whole career can be down to a written test makes me panic.”

Outhwaite spoke to students at St George’s Medical School in London, as well as qualified doctors as she prepared for her role. She admits she was less than prepared for the shock of filming with real cadavers for a scene where the students have to learn about dissection.

“The smell of the stuff they use to cover up the smell of the formaldehyde as well as the smell of dead people in the dissection laboratory is very potent. The first time we went in there we wondered whether we would be able to cope with the smell. But eventually we were able to switch off.”

The role of harassed mum in ‘Vital Signs’ couldn’t have been more different to her glamorous role as the feisty manager in ‘Hotel Babylon’. “Rhoda is the exact opposite of Rebecca in ‘Hotel Babylon’, the other end of the spectrum. Rebecca’s world is opulent and everything is fancy; the clothes, and the décor. Everywhere you look everything is attractive on the eye. Everything is aesthetically pleasing. Whereas Rhoda’s world is piles of washing, piles of books, and the kids. Everything has a purpose. There is no luxury in their lives.”

Playing Rhoda also meant a major image change for Outhwaite. Her trademark, long blonde locks were changed to chocolate brown with vibrant streaks. Outhwaite explains the change: “It had to look as if she didn’t have expensive hair treatments. So the make-up designer dyed it brown and just put a few streaks in. I liked it. I like to have a reason to change my hair. I’m not very good at saying I think I’m going to do something else with my hair now. I like a character to lead it that way.” But she says she’ll be back to blonde when she starts filming the new series of ‘Hotel Babylon’.