The hardest thing for me to accept about The Heart Surgeon (Pearl, 9.30pm), tonight's BBC movie starring Nigel Havers in the title role, was not the grisly footage in the operating room, nor even the multi-twist plot about a botched bypass operation. It was the sight of Nigel Havers having passionate sex in a blue-shadowed room, grunting and thrusting and slurping all over his lover. Nigel Havers is a good-looking, charming actor, but he is also the kind of British stereotype who should always keep his clothes on - or rather, his double-breasted tailor-made suit. His appeal is the kind that works chiefly on middle-aged women, which is why he has been such a hit in sitcoms such as Don't Wait Up, in which he also played a doctor. It isn't a raunchy, bedroom kind of thing at all. When he has got his clothes on, he looks rather handsomer than he did as Dr Latimer. He plays Alex Marsden, a top London heart surgeon, working out of a glamorous West London health trust. He has a very large, beautiful flat, a beautiful, blonde American girlfriend, and marches around the hospital in a haze of superiority. He also has some very old friends, Larry and Marcella, who live a totally different life on a farm somewhere in the countryside. Of course Marsden the surgeon envies their bucolic existence, adores jamming, badly, to Bob Dylan numbers with Larry after dinner, and fancies the pants off Marcella. When it turns out that Larry has been having unexplained chest pains, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out exactly what is going to happen. The corners of the triangle are very much in evidence within the first 20 minutes. This lack of suspense is despite the fact that the scriptwriters have done their damnedest to give almost everybody else in the cast a reason to do Marsden harm, including the blonde American, his colleagues at the hospital, a frumpy psychologist and even a glacial hospital administrator. The operating room scenes, however, are intensely dramatic - far more so than anything on ER, Chicago Hope or even the British equivalent, Casualty. There is no need for throbbing dramatic music to make our adrenalin shoot up. In the first scene, when a patient's heart suddenly starts spurting blood everywhere when Marsden has just been explaining why it won't do that, his sudden expletive, and the sight of clamps and valves and flopping pink bits of chest hanging about are more than enough to set viewers' hearts racing. In a way, it is a shame the writers decided on an improbable personal tragedy to highlight the difficulties of Marsden's job, and show him developing into a better man and a more humble doctor. It would have been far more interesting to explore a question his colleagues raise more than once: Do these complicated operations really achieve anything? Or are they just the way surgeons try to control the uncontrollable.