Yorkshire vet Julian Norton is London-bound for telethon TV duty

It is Monday morning and I'm writing this on the train to London Kings Cross, after a busy weekend on duty. In the last seventy-two hours, I have stitched up a wound on a dog, treated fourteen heifers suffering from an outbreak of pneumonia, put down an elderly dog, rescued a cat from the jaws of renal failure and seen a goat and a giant rabbit, amongst other things.

The Yorkshire Vet star Julian Norton is taking part in Channel 5's Help the Animals at Christmas telethon which will be shown on Friday, December 21.
The Yorkshire Vet star Julian Norton is taking part in Channel 5's Help the Animals at Christmas telethon which will be shown on Friday, December 21.

I have been on duty – either on first or second call – for the last ninety-six hours. This is not a terrible thing; when you are a vet in a mixed practice, it’s something you get used to.

But the moderate level of anxiety that is connected with the unpredictability of being on call – the not knowing what the next phone call will bring or whether, when you go to bed, you will sleep for six hours or no hours – is nothing compared with the anxiety that is with me now as I head to London to film some ‘VT’ for a Channel 5 telethon.

It is the channel’s first ever telethon and it will be raising money for five animal charities. The live show, of which I will be part, will feature proper television stars like Jo Brand, Ben Fogle and Gabby Roslin and will be aired on Friday, December 21. It’s called Help the Animals at Christmas.

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When I get to London, I am going to film some clips to show some of the work of the Blue Cross.

I think my job is to talk to the vets from the charity to find out about their work, which today will be from a mobile clinic, offering access to veterinary care for owners who might otherwise find it difficult.

I also have to do a ‘down the lens’ piece, which is what proper TV people do. “Hello, I’m Julian Norton from Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet...” This is very different from the way we film The Yorkshire Vet, where we definitely shouldn’t look into the camera.

Since it’s an observational documentary, looking into the lens or referring to being on telly crosses the ‘fourth wall’ and it isn’t to be encouraged. Luckily, I know the director for today, so I hope she’ll help me and make it easier and I get to pretend to be a real TV person. Ben Fogle, watch out!

On Tuesday, once we’ve done the VT for Help the Animals at Christmas, there is more discomfiture. It will be an early start the following day, because I’m going to be a guest on The Jeremy Vine Show. This is two hours of live television. There are lots of cameras, a studio audience, an autocue for the proper presenters and five newspaper articles for me to review along with some discussion of topical issues and current affairs.

At least, that was the format before, when I was on The Wright Stuff with Jeremy’s predecessor, Matthew Wright. It’s a far cry from a weekend on duty with a batch of coughing heifers, and the chance of a nocturnal emergency. Which is harder?

It’s difficult to say. The first time I was on The Wright Stuff, I was terrified – my comfort zone was on a different page altogether.

But today, stress about the cameras or not, at least my beeper isn’t going to go off to send me to calve a cow.

However, I do have my stethoscope, just in case while I am commentating on the mobile veterinary clinic, my actual veterinary skills are called in to action! I think I’m better with a stethoscope than with a microphone!

Channel 5’s Help the Animals at Christmas is on Friday, December 21. Please visit www.channel5.com/helptheanimals or text help5, help10 or help20 to 70028 to support this worthy cause and help the animals at Christmas.