This Is Going to Hurt review: Hilarious yet heart-breaking tribute to NHS
The seven-part comedy-drama features stellar performances from Ben Whishaw and Ambika Mod.
In the UK, pretty much everyone has used the NHS at some point in their lives, while many of us have stopped by obstetrics and gynaecology wards up and down the country, whether it's to birth a baby, watch a baby be born or be the baby that's being birthed (shout out to Wycombe Hospital for rolling out the red carpet for me back in 1996).
So when Adam Kay's autobiographical medical book This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor landed on shop shelves back in 2017, it quickly became a best-seller. Not only was Kay's writing hilarious, informative and at times horrifyingly explicit (you'll wish you'd never heard the 'de-gloving' story), This Is Going to Hurt provided brutally honest insight into what is arguably the best-loved institution in the UK.
Of course, a close second would be the BBC, which has adapted the medic-turned-comedian's book for TV, with the award-winning Ben Whishaw starring as a fictionalised version of Kay – and if there was ever to be an advert for why both pillars of British society need to be fiercely protected from budget cuts and defunding efforts, it would be this seven-part series.
Written by Kay himself, This Is Going to Hurt is a loose adaptation of the original book, following Adam – a slightly cocky, majorly sarcastic acting registrar working in a hospital on the Obs and Gynae ward or "brats and t**ts," as he calls it.
When we meet the constantly-exhausted doctor, he's asleep in his car, having accidentally passed out in the hospital car park at the end of a long shift. After being woken up by a phone call from his underling SHO (senior house officer), he's about to make his way back inside when he spots an expectant mother in labour outside the hospital.
We're only a few minutes in when Adam has to make the first delivery of the show and it's a dramatic one, with the doctor taking the woman up in the hospital's maintenance lift and dealing with a cord prolapse by manually pushing the umbilical cord back inside the womb.
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If you couldn't already tell, This Is Going to Hurt is a bit of a crash course in medical jargon that'll have you Googling the definition of early onset pre-eclampsia, but don't let that put you off.
Adam frequently breaks the fourth wall in a Fleabag-ian manner to explain what various medical conditions are, while the show doesn't hold back when it comes to showing the gruesome reality of a caesarean section, so if you're squeamish I'd have a cushion ready to cover your face with (although by the end of the show, you're very used to seeing Ben Whishaw covered head-to-toe in fake blood).
The show makes for a rather intense watch and does exactly what it says on the tin – there'll be moments where you're holding back tears and others where your sides physically hurt from laughing.
As for the cast, This Is Going to Hurt boasts an unsurprisingly excellent performance from Whishaw, who gives us an initially unlikeable Adam before diving deeper into one particularly traumatic instance on the job that rocks his confidence and his personal life as a gay man with a mother still unable to accept his sexuality.
As for newcomer Ambika Mod, This Is Going to Hurt serves as the perfect platform to show off just how much of a rising star she is, with the comedian starring as under-confidant trainee Shruti, who is regularly teased by the slightly pompous Adam as the two begin to form an almost brother-sister bond.
Together with The Crown's Alex Jennings as wealthy consultant Mr Lockhart and the hilarious Ashley McGuire as his no-nonsense stand-in Miss Houghton, the comedy-drama impresses with its strong cast, bolstered by the show's soundtrack of mid-noughties earworms.
A fast-paced emotional rollercoaster, This Is Going to Hurt is hands-down one of the best dramas we'll see in 2022 and with the show hitting home just how much pressure the NHS is under right now, the adaptation couldn't come at a better time.
Read more This Is Going to Hurt content:
- This Is Going to Hurt ending explained: Is Adam struck off?
- This Is Going to Hurt soundtrack: Every song in Ben Whishaw comedy drama
- Is This Is Going to Hurt based on a true story?
- Meet the cast of BBC One's This Is Going to Hurt
This Is Going to Hurt airs on Tuesday 8th February at 9pm on BBC One, with all seven episodes arriving on BBC iPlayer. You can buy Adam Kay's book on Amazon. While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.
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