You may have already read about this on our various other social media posts but the lost 2004 sitcom starring Adrian Edmondson, Mina Anwar and David Mitchell has been found after literally years of searching for it.
In truth I’d probably been searching for this since about 2008. I’d seen the odd photograph on the Radio Times website (long since deleted) and started asking around on message boards, contacting the BBC, emailing The British Comedy Guide and even trying to find contact information for Carlton as they produced/ funded it but absolutely nothing turned up. So I gave up. But then occasionally I would take up my quest for Doctors and Nurses again. Still nothing ever happened though and I often wondered if this search was worth it? And also why this sitcom had seemingly evaporated with only the tiniest hints on the dustiest corners of the internet giving proof of it’s existence! But surely anything with Adrian Edmondson and David Mitchell has merits worth preserving? Which is what has always made me continue to look for it.
It wasn’t until earlier this year I happened to causally mention my quest for this show to our fan site contributor @ChasquiPenguin in an email who then told me she’d been to a recording and certainly had a few episodes on VHS which she sent over to me! This brought a search spanning roughly ten years to an end with the full series turning out to be on the VHS. Now after a spot of format converting it is up on You Tube for the world to see! A lost sitcom found, my own personal Dad’s Army missing tapes style quest fulfilled. So after all that what is the show like?
To start with David Mitchell has a substantial role in this which I had previous doubted and wondered if he simply just popped up occasionally. To put the show in some context of David’s career at this time Doctors and Nurses was broadcast January 2004. His casting and the show’s recording would have almost certainly come before Peep Show’s TV debut in September 2003. David had previously only appeared in various sketch shows across radio and TV (Bruiser, The Mitchell and Webb Situation, and That Mitchell and Webb Sound) making this was one of David’s first roles in a sitcom. He plays Doctor Toby Stevens who is quite useless as a Doctor but is very likeable and well meaning and is also not interested in following in the footsteps of his privileged family of surgeons. He’s also a bit of a ladies man despite not immediately appearing so. All in all this is a character that plays to David’s strengths and there are some great moments from David in this such as the slapstick of him attempting to give a a patient an injection, his rousing rendition of Nirvana-‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and a speech where he finally stood up to his overbearing father. And that’s what I liked about the series as a whole, all the characters had a really nice character arch which felt completed by the final episode.
The main plot of the show is the battle of NHS Vs Private health care with Adrian Edmondson’s Dr Glover being the kind NHS doctor who is constantly attempting to squeeze in more NHS operations much to the exasperation of rival surgeon Dr Banatwala (Madhav Sharma). Their rivalry eventually turning into a friendship of sorts by the end of the series.
Another key plot of the series is Mina Anwar’s Sister Zita Khan and the possible romance between her and Adrian Edmondson’s character. I thought this was handled very well, most sitcoms would have allowed this plot point to take over the whole show but brilliantly it didn’t at all. Their relationship was one of the highlights of the series.
Mina Anwar’s character draws obvious similarities to her character Maggie Habib in the fantastic 90’s Ben Elton sitcom: The Thin Blue Line. I think this series was written with the idea of making a Thin Blue Line style show in a Hospital, even to the point of a direct nod to the show with a gag about keeping light under your chin while Dr Banatwala was filming surgery.
All in all there was absolutely no way this sitcom should have been lost to the point of near extinction and I’m so glad we were able to find it again. The main cast put in great performances and the characters are strong. It certainly deserved a second shot but as it was, told it’s story well across 1 series. Also look out for a cameo from Uncle Geoff AKA Geoff McGivern driving the bus at the start of every episode.
Now please enjoy the show! Here it is on our You Tube Channel for your viewing pleasure: