Monday, 8 October 2012, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Head of Clinical Services Gillespie (Neil Pearson) has dealt Monroe (James Nesbitt) a tough hand. He can only have one registrar on his team, but trainees Springer (Luke Allen-Gale) and Wilson (Michelle Asante) are equally capable. Monroe’s going to have to put the pair through the wringer to find out who is the better surgeon – but the biggest test this week will be of his own abilities.

The neuros’ first case is Shelley Maxwell (Amelia Young), a teenage girl whose brain shunt, fitted when she was a newborn, is beginning to malfunction. It’s time for her to have her brain’s third ventricle punctured by Monroe so that her cerebrospinal fluid can drain properly. It’s an operation for which Shelley’s been preparing for years, but she worries that once she’s fixed, her divorced parents and their families will have no reason to unite around her.

Then there’s Lynn Monkford (Caroline Strong), reconciled to the idea that she’ll die of cancer within a year. Monroe – who develops a close relationship with her husband, Mike (Sean Gilder) – can make that year worth living if he operates to reduce her brain tumour. Although it’s a routine operation, it is also the beginning of one of the greatest crises of his professional career.

Also at St Matthew’s for surgery is Graham Birdwell (Martin Walsh), preparing to undergo a double heart bypass with the help of his mentally disabled brother Geoffrey (Tim Dantay), and an A&E case with a nail to the chest. The latter is really a job for Witney (Christina Chong), but the less ambitious Mullery (Andrew Gower) finds himself taking on the patient and performing a grisly ‘clamshell’ to save the man’s life…

Meanwhile, Monroe finds himself powerless to prevent his son’s impending marriage, while Shepherd (Tom Riley) is finding life with the aloof Bremner (Sarah Parish) and their son Louis more of a strain than he ever expected, so much so that he finds himself looking for comfort elsewhere.

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