Brand new comedy This Is Going to Hurt made its debut on BBC One last week, with Ben Whishaw portraying a junior doctor trying to juggle his hugely stressful professional and personal life.


This Is Going to Hurt is based on the memoir of the same name by former doctor Adam Kay – a collection of diary entries written by Kay during his time as a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010 – with Whishaw starring as the on-screen portrayal of the doctor in the series.

With laughs and tears aplenty, a star-studded cast and some big plot twists, the emotional storylines have captured the imagination of fans across the country.

But is the series, which Whishaw has said is “trying to draw attention to the emotional and mental cost of working for the NHS”, based on a true story and how much of the book features in the seven-part comedy-drama?

Here's everything you need to know about whether This Is Going to Hurt is based on a true story. But be warned: spoilers for the full series follow below.

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Is This Is Going to Hurt based on a true story?

This is going to hurt shruti
Ambika Mod in This Is Going to Hurt (BBC) BBC

This Is Going to Hurt is a loose adaptation of Adam Kay's autobiographical book of the same name.

While Adam Kay was a junior doctor and many of the stories that feature in the show are true, some plot lines are embellished versions of entries from the book.

For example, in one episode, Adam is called to remove an object from a woman's vagina which turns out to be a ring – she had been planning on proposing to her boyfriend by asking him to fish it out. This short plot line is based on an entry from This Is Going to Hurt.

There is an entry in the book where Adam finds red stickers all over a patient's file, which indicates that they could be a victim of domestic abuse, only to realise that the patient's toddler had actually just gotten a hold of the stickers – however, the series develops this storyline further in episode 3 by having Shruti become suspicious of the patient's partner.

Speaking about the BBC adaptation, Adam Kay said: "The nature of the book – hundreds of diary entries in a single person’s voice – meant that a totally direct adaptation would have been something of a one-man sketch show."

"The TV series expands the world, predominantly in terms of the other characters we meet: from Adam’s family and boyfriend, to his midwife colleagues and other doctors," he added. "I’m sure people who have read the book will recognise lots of the scenes and hopefully feel that it’s still as funny, sad and of course repulsive as they remember."

Other plot lines in the show that are based on Kay's book entries include a patient's husband thinking their baby had no face, the sewing of the dolphin tattoo, Adam's degloving story and the patient wanting to eat her placenta.

Is Shruti's death based on a true story?

Shruti and Adam in This Is Going To Hurt
Ambika Mod and Ben Whishaw in This Is Going To Hurt (BBC)

A lot unfolds in the final episodes of This Is Going to Hurt including the tragic death of student doctor Shruti Acharya (Ambika Mod), who takes her own life after the stress of her never-ending ward shifts and the mounting pressure of her studies become too much.

Episode 7 of the series is set two months after her death, with her colleagues forced to continue as if nothing has happened.

However, Acharya does not feature in Kay's book on which the series is based and doesn't appear to be modeled on a real person.

Which other characters in the BBC drama are based on real people?

While the character of Adam is very clearly based on the author Adam Kay, many of the characters in the series do not appear in the book.

For example, while a number of nameless Senior House Officers feature in the book, it seems Tracy (Michele Austin), Ms Houghton (Ashley McGuire), Mr Lockhart (Alex Jennings) and Greg (Tom Durant-Pritchard) are characters that Kay has created for the show.

It's likely that Harry (Rory Fleck Byrne), Adam's boyfriend, is based on Kay's partner who he refers to as 'H' throughout the book, while Adam's mother Veronique (Dame Harriet Walter) is based on Kay's mother – although Walter has revealed that the character does not bear many similarities to his real-life mother.

"I'm assured she's not really like his real mother," Walter said. "So apologies to his real mother if anyone believes that I am playing her."

Read more This Is Going to Hurt content:

This is Going to Hurt airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC One, and all episodes are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.


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