Life

This Is Going To Hurt: Ben Whishaw to star in the BBC adaption of Adam Kay’s NHS memoir

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

This Is Going To Hurt, Adam Kay’s hilarious and horrifying diary about his time as a junior doctor on an NHS gynaecology ward, is being adapted into a new BBC drama starring Ben Whishaw.

If you haven’t yet read Adam Kay’s memoir This Is Going To Hurt, you’re in for a treat – of sorts.

The compulsively readable yet shocking account documents Kay’s years working as a junior doctor in an obstetrics and gynaecology unit.

There is drama and gore aplenty, amid tales of chronic underfunding and the kind of everyday heroics that we’ve come to associate with our great NHS.

You may also like

“It’s an achievement not to crash and burn”: the reality of being an NHS nurse during coronavirus

Now the bestselling book is being adapted into a new BBC Two drama starring Ben Whishaw as Kay, a newly qualified doctor who must battle his way through sleepless nights and an endless stream of childbirth crises in a chaotic London hospital.

Kay gave up life as a doctor after being involved in a particularly traumatic incident described at the end of his book. He has since become a comic and screenwriter, a skill that means he was able to personally adapt his diaries for TV. He will also executively produce the TV drama alongside director Lucy Forbes.

Here’s everything you need to know about a show that has all the hallmarks of being your new binge-watch addiction.

You may also like

Adam Kay’s powerful message for NHS workers speaks for all of us

What is This Is Going To Hurt about?

This Is Going To Hurt is a no-holds-barred account of Adam Kay’s time as a junior doctor struggling to adapt to life in a London obstetrics and gynaecology unit (known charmingly among medical students as the “brats and twats” unit). The eye-opening diary documents the highs and lows of life in emergency medicine in unflinching, and sometimes horrifying, detail.

Kay’s memoir sold millions of copies since it was first published in 2018, in part because it is so unnervingly frank. It lifts the lid on an NHS that faces severe funding issues and nonsensical cutbacks: and this at a time well before coronavirus hit.

You may also like

Mental health diaries: what it’s really like running an NHS coronavirus testing site

It’s junior doctors who often face the brunt of this overloaded framework, and Kay paints a vivid picture of newly qualified medics grappling with life-changing decisions in almost impossible circumstances.

At the same time, his book is also hilariously graphic, providing all the vicarious insight you would hope from the book world’s answer to ER (albeit with a dose of NHS-fuelled realism). It’s also tragic in parts, revealing the trauma that both doctors and their patients go through in a system on the brink.

The TV series promises to stick closely to the premise of the book, as it follows Adam “clinging to his personal life as he is increasingly overwhelmed by stresses at work: the 97-hour weeks, the life and death decisions”. It “rejoices in the highs, while pulling no punches in its depiction of the gut-wrenching lows” of life inside the NHS.

Ben-whishaw
Ben Whishaw will star in the TV version of This Is Going To Hurt

Ben Whishaw will star as Adam Kay in This Is Going To Hurt

Skyfall star and all-round British screen favourite Ben Whishaw will take the lead as Kay in the drama. Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says Whishaw is the perfect fit for “the waspish wit” and “the brilliant bloody-mindedness” of the book’s narrator.

Handily, Whishaw is also already a fan of This Is Going To Hurt, describing it as “terrific” read.

“I am proud to join this exciting adaptation,” he says. “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.” 

Adam Kay
Adam Kay's bestselling memoir is being adapted by the BBC

Adam Kay himself has adapted This Is Going To Hurt for TV

TV adaptations can sometimes stray from their book versions, so the fact that author Kay has created the script himself is a very promising sign for the new TV drama. Kay will also act as executive producer for the show.

He’s a big admirer of Whishaw’s casting, saying: “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?’”

You may also like

How should we feel about the government giving £60,000 to families of NHS staff who die of coronavirus?

Director Lucy Forbes will lead the production of This Is Going To Hurt

Lucy Forbes, who has previously worked on TV comedies In My Skin, and The End of the F***cking World, is signed up to direct the first four episodes of This Is Going To Hurt.

“This hilarious and heart-breaking view of the NHS, that we have so long taken for granted, feels more relevant than ever – and what better person to play Adam than the wonderful Whishaw!” she says. 

This Is Going To Hurt spotlights the huge pressures that NHS staff face every day

How does This Is Going To Hurt relate to the coronavirus crisis?

This Is Going To Hurt lays bare both the incredible effort that NHS staff put into caring for us all (more often than not, it’s dedication rather than salary or job satisfaction that drives them) and the huge challenges they face in doing exactly that. 

Kay’s writing is darkly humorous but it also depicts a stark vision of a system buckling under a thousand different strains. It’s by parts frustrating, humbling and inspiring: and it’s the very same set of difficulties – and related emotions – that coronavirus is now throwing into even sharper relief. This makes it particularly poignant timing for the TV drama to hit our screens.

As the show’s star, Whishaw, says: “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.”

You may also like

Coronavirus: in the age of Covid-19, NHS staff are (quite rightly) our A-list heroes

When does This Is Going To Hurt come out, and is there a trailer?

This Is Going To Hurt is still in the pre-production stages, so there’s no trailer available yet and BBC Two hasn’t said when it will be released. 

We are all ears for further news on what is set to be a must-watch new drama, though, and we will keep you posted as soon as we hear more.

Images: Getty, BBC/Tomo Brejc

Topics

Share this article

Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

Recommended by Anna Brech

Life

The best book to TV adaptations of 2020

The dramas based on your favourite novels to get excited about

Posted by
Helen Bownass
Published
Life

#clapforourcarers is happening every Thursday, so get ready to make some noise

Take a moment to celebrate all the incredible people saving lives.

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
Published
Life

NHS worker’s viral post reminds us to think before we judge people out in lockdown

“Why didn’t you just approach me and ask me what I was doing? Maybe then you would understand why I am getting up EVERY DAY to work for the NHS.”

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Life

How to join the NHS Volunteer Army during the pandemic

You can register to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
Published
Life

“Hearing others talk about how they feel in lockdown has made me feel less alone”

“Sharing where our minds are at and all the weird and unfamiliar feelings we’re experiencing is something we wouldn’t have considered doing pre-lockdown.”

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published