07/19/2013 11:29 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Hard Rock Medical: More Than a TV Show - It's My Life!


TVO's first commissioned drama series, Hard Rock Medical, provides a fresh and entertaining look at the unique challenges of delivering healthcare in Northern Ontario. Hard Rock Medical follows the lives of eight medical students, their struggles to succeed, and the obstacles they face in adapting to practising rural medicine and living in the North. Patrick McKenna heads a Canadian ensemble cast in this series airing Sundays at 8 pm, from June 9 to August 25 and at

The views expressed in TVO's Hard Rock Medical blog series are solely the opinion of the cast and filmmakers.

Hard Rock Medical: More than a TV show

So, I'm waiting in what is probably one of many boardrooms at TVO. I'm pacing nervously, running my lines again and again in my head: This is my first English TV audition and I must not screw this up. Then he walks in. I recognize him immediately: it's Patrick McKenna, the Patrick McKenna! What is he doing here? Auditioning? For the same part? Can't be, he's much older than me. I'm called in, and walk back out 15 minutes later. That was quick. Is "quick" good or bad?

I drive back to Sudbury that same day replaying my audition in my head, thinking I should have said this line like this or that line slower, but all that doesn't matter now; what's done is done. Fast forward a few weeks later: I'm back in that same TVO boardroom; it's filled with the "chosen ones." Patrick McKenna is there, of course, but so am I. "Hi, I'm Stef Paquette and I'll be playing the part of Charlie Rivière."

Now according to my friends, I'm not playing Charlie; I am Charlie Rivière. I guess they're partially correct. Charlie and I both have three children, although two of mine are already in their teen years. Secondly, as opposed to Charlie, it is my wife that is returning to med studies this August, in the nurse practitioner program. And did I mention that all the bedroom and outdoor house scenes were shot at my house? OMG, I AM Charlie Rivière!

As a homegrown Sudbury boy, I never imagined shooting a TV show in my hometown. Yet here it is, Hard Rock Medical, and oddly enough, a lot of what happens in the show somewhat mirrors my real life. Episode 4, "Clinic in Motion," reminded me of my years as supervisor of the Corner Clinic in Sudbury. The Corner Clinic provides health care services and illness prevention programs to low-income individuals who are hard to reach, homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. It is now part of the Samaritan Centre but began as a simple space in the back room of the soup kitchen where the rectangular deep freezer doubled as a bed for the patients. So that guerrilla style of medicine -- I've seen it and lived it.

Sudbury is a mining town, there is no denying that. My father, a Vietnam War vet, worked the mines for 36 years. "Down Under" (episode 7) is my most personal episode. Mining built this town, my town. Unfortunately, it has not been without tragedy. This year, I had the privilege of singing at a Remembrance Day luncheon honouring all the miners that had lost their lives underground here in Sudbury. I'm sure that episode resonated with all Sudburians.

To me, Hard Rock Medical is more than a TV show; it's a reflection of many of my realities here in the North.