"What do you get," asks the voice-over at the start of every episode, "when you take a young Aussie vet and move him from the beaches of Queensland to London?" It's a riddle that doesn't take too long to solve: what you get is one of the most emotionally draining shows on television.
There are TV tear-jerkers, and then there's Vet on the Hill. Most shows in this genre - we're talking your One Born Every Minute, your Lost and Found - follow a familiar pattern, build towards an emotional climax. You know it's coming, you know when to reach for the tissues, you're prepared.
Vet on the Hill is next level. It's relentless, a total emotional onslaught. On this show the waterworks can strike at any time, without warning. If you ever need a good cry - and who doesn't, from time to time - this will do the trick.
Let's start with the vet himself. Dr Scott Miller might be the nicest Australian on the planet - he makes Dr Chris Brown, the famous Bondi Vet, look like Shane Warne. He has such warmth for all the animals in his care, and he's so kind to all his clients when they're at their most fragile over their sick pets. So when Scott gets upset, like last week, when a dog he was trying to save didn't make it, you can hardly imagine anything more heartbreaking.
Other times it's the owners. The worst was Peggy - oh God, poor Peggy. She first appeared a few weeks ago as the owner of an English bulldog with severe arthritis. A lovely old lady and a soft touch, she had adopted Archie after a long stay at the shelter, and grown to love him despite his myriad physical and behavioural problems. After Scott sorted out his arthritis, things were finally looking up for the unlikely pair.
But the next episode, she was back, and it was bad news - Archie had bitten her. She decided he'd be better off with someone else, so Scott came around to pick him up. There was this one devastating shot where you saw him lead the dog into the house, past the camera, then a slow zoom in on Peggy standing all alone in the garden, bravely trying to hold it together.
All this was just softening us up for the finishing blow: cut to a wistful Peggy reassuring herself "he's not going to miss me as much as I miss him", while Scott slowly walked Archie down the street. An absolute masterclass in the art of heartstring manipulation.
Vet on the Hill, Three Life, 8.30pm, Sunday