Unlike Taking The Flak – last night’s BBC2 comedic offering – BBC4’s Getting On was truly hilarious and for once, I didn’t feel like one of Dick Turpin’s victims where my license fee was concerned.
Filmed documentary style and directed by Oscar winner Peter Capaldi, it completely embraced and faultlessly put across the PC, paper strewn world of the modern hospital ward, and the characters were utterly believable.
From put-upon nurse Kim Wilde, played in wonderfully dead pan mode by Jo Brand – who of course used to be a nurse so she may well have drawn on her own experiences for this show – to the pedantic and patronising Consultant, Dr Moore, again played to perfection by Vicki Pepperdine, it was a real treat for anyone who truly appreciates dark humour.
Jo Scanlon also turned in a flawlessly excellent performance as Sister Den Flixster and all three women were in fact the writers of this series, which really deserves a primetime slot on BBC1 of at least an hour per episode. And just by the by, the real Kim Wilde was apparently approached to ask for permission to use her name for one of the characters, and she not only gave it but also asked for a role in the show herself.
Anyway, I was laughing within seconds of the show starting as Sister Flixster sat with 87 year old Lily who’d passed away while the Sister held her hand and simultaneously sent a text. As this unfolded, there was a crisis in the form of a “faecal deposit” on a chair which caused some debate about whether it should just be called sh*t or faeces.
Kim wanted to just flush it but Dr Moore was doing research into poo in Bristol and therefore wanted every poop kept and sent to the lab, so the chair was placed out of bounds while a critical incident report had to be filled in. Hearing Den Flixster trying to get Kim to pad out her report about the sh*t on a chair was brilliant, and so typical of what actually happens. That’s where this programme had its magic; it really is like that on wards up and down the country.
Meanwhile, an unidentified Indian woman rambled on to herself as Dr Moore and her students tried – not very hard – to find out what was wrong with her. The pseudo-sympathetic smile of Dr Moore was again, so real, Pepperdine must’ve either experienced hospital consultants first hand or shadowed one.
Another hugely funny scene came when Dr Moore told Kim off for flushing the poop; while Kim defended herself and said that the new matron had told her to just flush it, Dr Moore expounded upon the vital importance of the poo to her research. When she asked Kim what colour the stool was, she replied, “Brown”. It doesn’t read as funny but with Brand’s ceaselessly sarcastic undertones, it really was.
The new ‘modern matron’, Hilary Loftus, was a bloke and not prepared to allow “Mrs A” on his ward. It took a few seconds to get it but he was of course talking about MRSA. Again, the character of Loftus was totally believable and while he didn’t have enormously funny lines, he was vicariously funny given the awesome company he kept on screen.
And while all that was going on, poor dead Lily was wheeled off to the morgue, the identity of whodunit sh*t wise firmly centred on patient Wendy who wasn’t playing with a full deck, and Dr Moore began to suspect one of her patients might be off to Veritas for a dignified end. More important though was Lily’s birthday cake and whether or not her sister Connie – who was due in to see Lily “in repose” – would want the cake back.
But one of the moments that actually made me cry with laughter was when the Indian lady mentioned earlier was rambling again and Kim had a bloke from the “translation line” on the phone. In a bid to find out what Indian lady might be saying, Den advised Kim to hold out the phone so that the translator could hear what she might be saying. It transpired this smiling old lady had said, “I want to die, please kill me” to which Den responded, “I’ll put it in her notes.”
Getting On is by far one of the best things I’ve seen on TV for a long time. I just wish the episodes were a lot longer but at least it wasn’t a one off and I can’t wait for next week’s show. In case you missed it, you can see it on BBC’s iPlayer here and if you’ve got even a semblance of humour in you, and you’ve ever been in hospital, this should have you, like it did me, in bits.