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Ben Whishaw cast as lead in BBC adaptation of This is Going to Hurt

The Paddington and James Bond actor will star in the "blisteringly funny, politically enraging and frequently heart-breaking" medical drama based on Adam Kay's memoirs

Ben Whishaw
Published: Monday, 15th June 2020 at 12:01 am

Ben Whishaw has been cast as the lead in the long-awaited BBC adaptation of This is Going to Hurt.


The BBC Two drama is based on former doctor Adam Kay's award-winning multi-million selling memoir about his experiences working in the NHS, and is billed as "blisteringly funny, politically enraging and frequently heart-breaking". It was first announced as an eight-part drama back in July 2018.

Whishaw, who is set to play the on-screen version of Adam, is known for his starring roles in films and TV shows including the James Bond movies, A Very English Scandal, London Spy, Paddington.

The actor said in a statement that he was "proud to join this exciting adaptation," adding: "It’s an honest, hilarious, heart-breaking look at the great institution and the army of unsung heroes who work there under the most stressful conditions. The Covid-19 crisis has now shed even more light on their great work and underlines the necessity to support the NHS and its workers."

The drama has been adapted for screen by Adam Kay himself, who apparently is pretty pleased with the casting.

"Ben is quite simply one of the finest actors our country has ever produced and a bona fide national treasure," he said in a statement. "There’s simply no one who could do a better job of playing (a much more handsome version of) me. Best still, I now have an answer to the standard dinner party question: 'Who would play you in the story of your life?'"

This is Going to Hurt author Adam Kay
This is Going to Hurt author Adam Kay (Idil Sukan)

As the BBC puts it, "Kay’s diaries, scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, tell the unvarnished truth of life as a doctor working in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

"Whishaw is set to play the fictional version of Adam, who we find wending his way through the ranks of hospital hierarchy – junior enough to suffer the crippling hours, but senior enough to face a constant barrage of terrifying responsibilities. The series sees Adam clinging to his personal life as he is increasingly overwhelmed by stresses at work: the 97-hour weeks, the life and death decisions, and all the while knowing the hospital parking meter is earning more than him.

"This is Going to Hurt is a show about trying to be a good doctor in a system which can sometimes feel like it’s working against you. Like the book, the series will depict life on and off the hospital ward with frank and often shocking honesty. The series rejoices in the highs, while pulling no punches in its depiction of the gut-wrenching lows, and celebrates the everyday superstars of the health service who keep our hospitals running."

The BBC adds: "Kay’s adaptation continues to be a stark reminder of the vital role played by the health service and is a clarion call to continue to support our medics, at a time when that message is more urgent than ever."

Lucy Forbes is on board as lead director. The drama will be produced by SISTER, the production company behind Chernobyl, Giri/Haji, and Gangs of London – in association with Adam Kay's Terrible Productions (and in co-production with AMC).


An air date for This is Going to Hurt has yet to be announced. While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.


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