INTERVIEW: Noel Fitzpatrick talks charity work, receiving negative feedback on The Supervet and what to expect in series 9
The man who astonished viewers with his ground-breaking and innovative veterinary practices, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, is back tonight for a brand new series of The Supervet.
The hugely popular series sees ‘bionic vet’ Noel and his team provide cutting-edge care and compassionate support for both animals and their human families and series nine promises to document some of the most emotional and technically challenging cases to date.
We sat down with The Supervet himself to discuss everything do to with the Channel 4 series.
From the very beginning of our chat, Noel’s love for what he does is abundantly clear. Animal welfare has been a passion of his since his early years growing up on a farm in Ballyfin, Co. Laois, and the famous vet wasted no time in jumping straight in with his main objective for the show.
“It’s very important people know the reason I do it [the show], not the reason they think I do it,” he tells us.
“We are supposed to be an advocate for hope. That’s what we are supposed to do with this show. I never wanted to make a show about science. It’s very important that we do show that. But it’s more important that we show the love behind it.”
When asked what kind of changes we should expect to see in the new series, Noel replies: “The biggest single thing that we’re going to do better in this next run than we’ve ever done before is show failure.
“And that’s really important to me because I am not evangelical about this. And I am not self-congratulatory. I’m only as good as the operation as I did last night.
“Ultimately I will show it as raw as it can be. This isn’t Tattoo Fixers. These people are in crisis.”
One of this season’s most complex surgeries will come in the form of four tiny hedgehogs, each of whom is brought before Noel with a broken left hind leg. Operating on a minute scale, viewers will witness Noel perform back-to-back surgery in order to reconstruct their tiny tibias in the hope that they can be returned to the wild.
Noel recalled that day in the surgery, remarking: “Bizarrely, one Monday night they all decided to cross the road from the left-hand side! How bizarre is that? They all had broken left tibias!”
The 49-year-old did not seem phased by having to make these adjustments in terms of scale, however, and when we asked if he found operations of this nature difficult, he replied: “No, not really. I’ve operated on hamsters, I’ve operated on frogs, I’ve operated on small lizards. What’s hard is that it’s somebody’s friend.
“I don’t think in terms of size. I think in terms of ‘are we doing the right thing?’”
As widely adored as The Supervet is, Noel admits that he is used to receiving negative feedback from the show: “I think it’s human nature to build people up and knock them back down.
“The veterinary profession find this show difficult sometimes because they think that possibly I’m blowing my own ego. And that’s not true, but it’s difficult to explain to people that the reason I do it is to try and be a proper advocate for the animals and also to get a foundation or platform for the Humanimal Trust.”
Noel has been instrumental in bringing the concept of One Medicine to the fore in the UK, a concept which is at the heart of the charity he founded. The Humanimal Trust is the first charity of its kind in Britain and aims to establish a platform for the cross-pollination of expertise and ideas between veterinary and human medicine for the benefit of all living creatures.
Noel explains: “Animals have given us medicine and implants for so long but we never give it back. Almost no drug that you have and almost no implant that you have in your body has not been tested on an animal. Almost 5,000 dogs in the United Kingdom lose their life every year giving you drugs and implants.
“Now I’m not saying you can’t have safe drugs and implants. What I’m saying is that it’s silly not to have stem cells, cancer drugs and implants developed for humans and animals at the same time. Not just one for the benefit of the other.
“The Humanimal Trust is about funding research which helps the animal as well as the human.”
Season nine of The Supervet kicks off tonight at 8pm with the case of a labradoodle named Mitzi, who may have suffered serious nerve damage after being involved in a nasty road accident. With Mitzi’s owners fearing the worst, Noel discusses the options available for their beloved pet.
Season nine of The Supervet begins tonight (Thursday April 20) at 8pm on Channel 4.