James Nesbitt brings Monroe to ITV1

by Lisa McGarry

James Nesbitt stars in ITV1’s major new six-part medical drama series, Monroe, created by acclaimed writer Peter Bowker (Eric and Ernie, Occupation, Desperate Romantics, Wuthering Heights) and produced by Mammoth Screen.

Nesbitt plays neurosurgeon Gabriel Monroe and is joined by a strong ensemble cast including Sarah Parish (The Pillars of the Earth, Mistresses, Cutting It) as cardiac surgeon Jenny Bremner with Tom Riley (Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Lost in Austen) as anaesthetist Dr Lawrence Shepherd. Manjinder Virk (Britz, Bradford Riots) as registrar Sally Fortune, Thomas Morrison (Brideshead Revisited, Blackpool) as hospital porter-cum-bookie, Lee Bradley, and Susan Lynch (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Nora) plays Monroe’s wife, Anna. Sarah Smart (Wallander, Funland) and Shaun Evans (Come Rain Come Shine, The Take, The Virgin Queen) will guest star in episode one.

The six part series explores Monroe’s world both inside and outside the hospital, as medical emergencies cut across the lives of everyone involved from staff to patients and relatives.

Whilst Monroe does all he can to encourage his shy and weak-stomached trainee, Wilson (Michelle Asante) and keep the ambitious Springer (Luke Allen-Gale) in check, Bremner’s trainees, Andrew Mullery (Andrew Gower) and Sarah Witney (Christina Chong) are left to observe her cardiac operations from the sidelines.

ITV’s Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie said: “Monroe will breathe new life into the medical genre; I hope the combination of Pete’s sharp and pacy script and Jimmy’s performance as the charismatic surgeon will make this one of the most compelling new dramas for 2011.”

Peter Bowker said: “I am a huge fan of hospital drama – not least because it provides the chance to tell big emotional stories based on compelling characters.

“Neurosurgeons are the nearest thing we have to real-life miracle workers, yet they share the same human failings as the rest of us. We want them to be brave enough to take the decisions they take, yet they can’t always be right. We don’t have to like them, but we have to believe in them. Monroe dramatises what it is like to be at the sharp end of those expectations.”

Mammoth Screen’s Damien Timmer said: “To have Peter Bowker, James Nesbitt and Paul McGuigan working together on a new hospital drama series is a proper coup for us and we’re so delighted with the end results.”

Producer Jennie Scanlon said: “With Peter Bowker at the helm, Monroe has developed through the synergy of a talented pool of creatives. Paul McGuigan’s vision has been a driving force in creating the world of the hospital and James Nesbitt brilliantly inhabits the role of Monroe with verve and intelligence.”