Ben Whishaw and Ambika Mod take up through the dark, dark, dark comedy of Adam Kay’s excellent This Is Going To Hurt
“Can you stop being quite so much of a twat”
Based on Adam Kay’s memoir about life as a junior doctor in a struggling NHS in 2006, there’s something deeply concerning that This Is Going To Hurt is almost a historical record. After more than a decade of Tory neglect and sabotage, with a workforce forced to industrial action to try and negotiate decent pay, who knows what the show would be like today.
As it is, it is an unflinchingly look at the realities of being a junior doctor, of being part of an underfunded health service whose demands never end, of what obstetrics and gynaecology is actually like, versus the sanitised versions of childbirth that have been presented to us in so many TV shows and films. It is necessarily tough viewing but it is also absolutely gripping.
Ben Whishaw plays Kay, an arrogant acting registrar who, like so many junior doctors, find himself out of his depth. An endemic lack of support and an abrasive sense of humour means he pisses off his superiors, his colleagues, including Ambika Mod’s Shruti who he is meant to be mentoring, and the nurses upon he relies so much, not to mention his boyfriend and friends.
And with an eye-wincing amount of gory details, there’s little left to the imagination when it comes to the tense trauma that often accompanies medical trauma. The accuracy of all this should not be called into question, they know of what they speak here, and the rapid turnover of patients means that the fast pacing keeps us on our toes and reeling at what has just pased.
Whishaw is excellent as Kay, clasping onto razor-sharp black comedy as a personality to get through the day, even as it alienates those around him. And Ambika Mod is superb as Shruti, a talented young doctor who can’t seem to escape being ground down by the system. They both regularly break the fourth wall, to devastating effect.
And in the ensemble around them, there’s fantastic work. Harriet Walter doing her archetypal upper class mum act, Alex Jennings as a smarmy consultant, Michele Austin’s fearless head midwife Tracy and Rory Fleck Byrne’s Harry, the boyfriend trying his best to be endlessly patient. It’s not an easy watch to be sure, but a necessary one.