This Is Going to Hurt review: Ben Whishaw's new BBC comedy-drama is a gory, blackly comic eye-opener
Health workers of all sorts have been the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, but as This Is Going to Hurt (BBC1, Tues, 9pm) bloodily showed, a round of applause on the doorstep was never going to be enough to acknowledge the reality of life on the NHS frontline.
Based on the bestselling memoir by Adam Kay, This Is Going to Hurt could have gone for Doctor in the House style lightweight laughs – and there are a few of those. An inconveniently placed cleaner’s bucket is just begging for a hapless doctor to tread in it, and so he does.
But at no point are you allowed to relax and comfort yourself with the thought that the wards are still populated by the bosomy matrons, naughty nurses and disaster-prone doctors of the Carry On films. In fact, you’d be lucky to find the wards populated at all, with Ben Whishaw’s Dr Adam having to cover shifts because the locum registrar hasn’t turned up, and the trainee house officers having to ‘see one, do one, teach one’ instead of getting decent training.
You get the impression that everyone is working at the limits of the frazzled edge of their tolerance, and at any moment disaster will make a house call, which, of course, it does.
It’s scatalogical, gory and at times extremely uncomfortable. Whishaw is all dog-tired, caffeine-fuelled adrenaline, and his thinly-fictionalised version of Kay is not entirely likeable, while the humour is pitch black.
However, what really stands out is the sheer terror – for patients and doctors – of life and death, and the almost casual way they are treated.
If you are a mum-to-be, it is probably best not to watch, but for everyone else this is a gory, blood-black drama worth a standing ovation.Chloe (BBC1, Sun/Mon, 9pm) got off to an absorbing start, as social media fixated Becky gets in with the in-crowd, but you hope this psychological thriller maintains its air of mystery or it may go off the rails.
Rose Matafeo’s light and lovely rom-com Starstruck (BBC3, Mon, 10pm and iPlayer) returned this week, and it’s still hitting the right balance between bitter and sweet. A triumphant confection.