Geordie Hospital, review: less NHS waiting lists or whistleblowers, more jolly accents

Question. How many Geordies does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: 50. One to change the lightbulb, 49 to tell you (in a Geordie accent) “how great the people are!” Geordie Hospital (Channel 4) is back and as ever its mission is to spread light and joy.

The sort of health workers who want to appear in such shows are self-selecting, but in Newcastle’s two big hospitals they come fitted with extra-wide smiles. Meet hot pin-up surgeon Craig, who gets “a total buzz off operating”, and hyper-happy midwife Titi, bringing babies into the world with a song in her heart, and off-the-scale cheery housekeeper Pauline, who diagnoses herself as “loyal, friendly, maybes a bit noisy”. Anyone who’s had a charisma bypass doesn’t get cast.

Of course a Newcastle accent is an inbuilt ray of sunshine. What of orthopaedic surgeon Malik? His voice suggested non-Geordie origins, but he is jovially on brand with the dandyish bow ties and the look-at-me waistcoats. “I want to be the best surgeon,” he explained with a shrug, “so why don’t I look the best? That’s me.” He must have been waiting his whole career for Geordie Hospital to happen.

The jollity is lovely. At a certain point the show has to practise actual medicine, much of it too fiendishly complex for the lay viewer to grasp. Craig may very well say, “I’m a plumber, basically.” But there’s unblocking u-bends and there’s the eye-popping process of manoeuvring a stent into the chest of John, 79, via an artery in the groin. 

Meanwhile Malik was inserting metal implants into the ankle of Louisa, a young patient with inflammatory arthritis. This proved a more telegenic process, as he brandished a big screwdriver to remove an old metal implant, then knocked in a new one with a mallet. “I’m a joiner, basically,” he did not say.

Also unsaid was anything about bed shortages, waiting lists, whistleblowers or industrial action. Relentlessly focused on positive outcomes, as propagandist as an upbeat army recruitment video, this happy hour showcases the feelgood NHS the managers want you to see, support, and even join.

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