Nobody could blame Ben Fogle if, even after all these years of globetrotting, he still gets itchy feet from time to time – after all, it’s part and parcel of being an adventurer, and his expeditions certainly make for great television.
But of course, his job isn’t the safest. It was well-documented when he contracted a flesh-eating parasite from a sandfly bite in the Peruvian jungle, and after racing long-term friend James Cracknell across the Atlantic, both were left with frostbite and hypothermia.
But if there is one thing sure to keep Ben in one place – and relatively safe – for a longer stint of time it’s his love for animals, so for the second time with this series, he’s temporarily hanging up his walking boots, ice pick, and rowing oars to set up camp at the University of Liverpool’s Leahurst campus, which is home to one of the UK’s top veterinary colleges.
Ben is going behind the scenes at the campus’s state of the art operating theatres to follow the daily dramas that come with treating the 10,000 sick animals brought in every year. In this first episode, staff treat a horse called Polo, who is at serious risk of dying from colic. His owner Charlotte fears the worst, and equine surgeon Neil Townsend rushes the animal into surgery. After cutting open his stomach, it turns out Polo has 76 litres of undigested grass that needs clearing – but Polo will make a full recovery, which leaves Charlotte overjoyed as it means they can celebrate their joint 19th birthdays together.
Meanwhile, in the small animal clinic, Paolo Silvestrini treats Beauty, a rescue kitten that can’t stop sneezing – and he’s keeping his owners up at night because of it. Paulo thinks it’s possible Beauty has a nasal blockage, but runs a CT scan to rule out anything else.
Meanwhile, farm vet Jo Oultram helps the Chester Zoo staff perform a vasectomy on Lewis, a Congo buffalo. Lewis gets put under general anaesthetic, so Jo quickly gets on with the tricky procedure before he wakes up.
Ben also meets Nichol Fisher, who’s called to a school farm to treat a sheep with a bout of mastitis, which has become so severe that she cannot feed her newborn lambs.
So for now, Ben’s on dry land. But given that this is only a three-part series, we’ll put money on the fact that it won’t be long before he’s back to his adventurous self, planning a cycling trip to the moon or something equally outlandish.
BEN FOGLE’S ANIMAL CLINIC, Channel 5, Tuesday 8pm