Frankie review BBC One: Eve Myles shines in this good-natured yet lightweight drama

by Matt D


There are some programmes that just feel like they should be airing a a certain time. For example the BBC’s new medical drama Frankie, would best suit a Sunday evening or even a weekday afternoon. It’s surprising then that its being broadcast at 9pm on a Tuesday night, a sport reserved for event dramas such as The Paradise or The Syndicate. It’s not to say that Frankie is a particularly bad programme, in fact I would say it has its heart in the right place, but at the same time it’s incredibly lightweight.

The Frankie of the title is district nurse Frankie Lennox, who is just about to celebrate her 36th birthday. Frankie’s predictable policeman boyfriend Ian is seemingly going to throw the same surprise bash he does every year. However, when Frankie finds an engagement ring in one of her bedroom drawers she realises that he’s about to propose. Despite being in love with Ian, Frankie’s first love is her job and we see this through her relationship with two characters. The first of these is Mr Thomas a kindly old gent that Frankie is very fond of but who is becoming more confused on every visit. Mr Thomas is being cared for his by his daughter Jean, but when Frankie finds out that Jean is also looking after a terminally ill husband she suggests that Mr Thomas receive full time care. However, Jean isn’t so keen on the idea of her father having an assessment as she feels that he’ll just be put into a home like her mother was. But when Mr Thomas threatens Frankie with a knife, Jean changes her mind and agrees to the assessment under the proviso that her father wouldn’t be put into a home. But, when Frankie is tied up with another patient, she misses the assessment and a confused Mr Thomas meets the specialists on his own.


That other patient is the heavily pregnant Heather, who doesn’t want to give birth until her soldier husband returns home from Afghanistan. While Frankie is initially there to look after Heather in her final stages of pregnancy, she continues to worry about Heather’s young daughter Ruby. Every time Frankie visits Heather, Ruby is off school with symptoms that include wooziness and tingles in her fingers. As Frankie decides to book Ruby an appointment with a consultant, she gives the mother and daughter a lift home from the midwife when tragedy strikes. Ruby suddenly goes into cardiac arrest and Frankie stops her car in order to deliver mouth to mouth. Despite Ruby’s condition improving, Frankie doesn’t feel like she can leave the family even on the night of her surprise birthday. As Frankie calls on Andy to help her get Heather’s husband to the hospital, it seems she may have lost her man as a drunk Ian seemingly ends their relationship.

I think the reasoning for putting Frankie on a Tuesday night is to rope in the Holby City crowd who haven’t had their fill of medical dramas just yet. I personally found Frankie a likeable drama that was definitely good-natured but was incredibly lightweight. Writer Lucy Gannon, who previously penned the excellent Paralympic drama The Best of Men, makes Frankie a woman with a heart-of-gold who often puts her career before her personal life. It’s a character that we’ve seen plenty of times before but somehow Gannon doesn’t make Frankie seem like too much of a stereotype. Part of the reason for this is all the quirky moments in the drama most notably our central character’s conversations with Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce. However, Gannon isn’t above the odd piece of clunky dialogue such as when Frankie tells one patient ‘I laugh in the face of cutbacks,’ or later when she exclaims ‘the world is my patient.’ Possibly the most frustrating thing about Frankie is that the titular character has to make a choice between her career and her love life. I’m sure a lot of district nurses manage to have a successful relationship and excel at work however, by the end of this episode, it seems as if Frankie is fighting a losing battle in terms of her relationship with Ian. Talking of Ian I find he is quite underwritten, which is something I could say about most of the supporting characters. I have to say I do feel his pain to an extent as he plays second fiddle to Frankie’s patients, however I lose all sympathy for him by the closing scene. It also seems utterly predictable that Frankie will end up in the arms of the lovely Andy by the end of the series. The rest of Frankie’s colleagues are fairly inconsequential, apart from the youngest nurse who looks destined to be a major part of the rest of the series.

I have to say part of the reason that Frankie is so likeable is because of Eve Myles who entirely steals the show as the superhero-like district nurse. Myles is totally believable as the crusading angel who gets through her days by singing along to her radio and being super nice to all of her patients. It’s a testament to Myles that I never thought about Gwen from Torchwood when watching Frankie but instead was totally engrossed by her performance. Myles actually had better chemistry with Derek Riddell, who played Andy, than she did with Dean Lennox Kelly as boyfriend Ian. Jemma Redgrave also lends some classy support as the realistic Doctor who often crushes Frankie’s optimism by dishing out some home truths. However this is definitely Myles’ show and I felt that she coped well with being in almost every scene of the drama.

Overall Frankie is an incredibly lightweight drama but one that I found to be quite enjoyable, due mainly to Myles’ lead performance. Gannon has created a likeable lead character and, despite some clunky dialogue, seems utterly believable. While I was never gripped by Frankie, I can’t say I wasn’t interested in what happened to the nurse and her patients. The only issue I had was with the scheduling of this in a primetime slot as it really feels like something that would play better on a Sunday night, nestled between Countryfile and Antiques Roadshow.

What did you think to Frankie? Do you think it deserved its primetime slot? Leave Your Comments Below.


  1. Laura T on May 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I thought it was tired, unoriginal and above all completely unrealistic. District nurses do not deal with pregnant ladies, community midwives do that. Nor do they refer children to paediatricians, health visitors or GPs do that. However, GPs do not manage district nurses as seemed to be the implications here. Ignoring the glaring errors in what the role of a district nurse actually is, no healthcare professional has the time to accompany patients to unscheduled scans or follow them into cafes. Indeed, as a patient I would find it quite disturbing if my district nurse/community midwife/health visitor/doctor followed me into a cafe and grilled my daughter about her state of health especially given she wasn’t even her patient. I agree that the dialogue was embarrassingly clunky at times though was Gwen, sorry Frankie, ‘laughing in the face of cutbacks’ by doing all the jobs in the NHS herself?! Though Eve Myles did a decent job of playing Frankie I found the character irritating rather than quirky, her policeman partner just seemed to gurn his way through it. They deserved each other. This seemed to me to be the drama equivalent of ‘The Wright Way’ and confirms to me that the BBC should be looking for some new talent.

  2. EH on May 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

    This was a DRAMA, not a reality show. It was entertaining and well acted. Some district nurses in rural areas probably do some of the things Frankie did. I thought it was really good and if you didn’t like it, there is an off switch on your tv.

  3. Laura T on May 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Well I never did! I’ve also found some buttons with numbers on my remote which I believe enable me to change channels which I will be doing at 9 next Tuesday night. I do like to give new dramas a chance and whilst I have no doubt that some will find it entertaining, I did not. Agreed it was generally well acted but a pity they had such a poor script to work with. Incidentally I live in a very rural area and find the district nurses here still don’t do ante natal care. And this is set in the middle of Bristol. Going back to the original question, whilst this is harmless enough, it is not prime time viewing material.

  4. Laura T on May 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    See the review in the Telegraph online by Jake Wallis Simmons about it. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Which is why he’s a journalist and I’m not.

  5. eh on May 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I am glad it was prime time viewing. I will be tuning in next week. I never believe what I read in the papers. I am glad you found the buttons on your remote to change the channel Laura, so you can find a nice reality show to watch.

  6. Laura T on May 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the advice EH, perhaps you could recommned a nice reality show as they’re not the kind of programmes I usually watch. Much prefer an intelligent, original, well scripted drama with plausible characterisation. Or a funny sitcom. Tricky to find them these days….

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