This Is Going To Hurt - Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

“When asking an elderly gentleman to spell world as part of a dementia test, the patient replied ~Do you mean world as in the planet or whirled as in the past participle of whirl to dance ?”
Adam Kay

Adam Kay in scrubs (Photo: Nimax Theatres)

Adam Kay trained as a doctor and this show is excerpts from his million selling comedy autobiography of his times as a junior doctor, This Is Going To Hurt.  So to be thrilled by many a witty anecdote celebrating the ridiculous and the quirky, retold by the author.    

And here we are, back in the West End (Hurrah!) in Nimax’s Apollo Theatre, health questionnaire filled in, masks on, temperature taken, hands sanitised, socially distanced, drinks ordered by the Nimax theatres app, arrival times staggered and proscribed, seated with an empty seat on either side of our bubble. 

The show sees Kay wear Personal Protective Equipment, well the gown, if not the face shield and helmet and mask. He plays a keyboard and, like “Flanders and Swann” or Bob Newhart, has rewritten the lyrics fitting in all kinds of complicated medical terminology into great pop anthems from “Eye of the Tiger” to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.  At one point to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, the audience are invited to take part in a quiz, to guess and sing the last technical medical word which describes the given symptoms.  For instance, it could be a gastric complaint and some were singing “Indigestion, Indigestion” rather than “Appendicitis, Appendicitis”.  Try it to the Leonard Cohen tune!  On the first result, we could hear a mishmash of possible answers but after Kay’s prompting, we were all able to join in together from behind our face masks.  Good fun participation and very droll!

Kay doesn’t complain about the long hours except he does mention the agreement to ignore the European Working Time directive which finds him working 97 hours instead of the legal 48! I believe the Health authorities paid the thousands of pounds in fines in order to ensure there are doctors on duty. As a mother of a junior doctor some years ago, actually the same generation as Adam Kay, I remember my moaning about working fifty hours a week only for my son to top my story by two.  

And like Ginger Rogers’s comment on Fred Astaire, you will remember, doing what he did only backwards and in high heels, my daughter in law does everything Adam Kay did while also caring for a two year old and in a pandemic.

Adam Kay must have been part of that generation where a national computer cock up meant that no-one knew where in the country their junior doctor contract was to be, or if they would be awarded one at all.  

We are told in the publicity for his book that he is the fifth most famous ex-doctor.  Who can name the other four?   I thought of Harry Hill, Jonathan Miller and David Tennant!  Kay will be moving up this ranking as his book is to be filmed by the BBC in 45 minute episodes and starring Ben Whishaw as the junior doctor.

The ribald comedy ends on a sad note as, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, as a relatively senior junior doctor, he’s faced with a tragedy.  It’s not his fault and, despite reassurances, feels he cannot carry on in medicine.  It is an obvious flaw in the system that no-one is there to pick up the pieces of a doctor who has suffered this kind of trauma. 

The final ten minutes of the show are a complete shift in tone as Adam Kay composes an eulogy to the 620 medical professionals (and that includes all hospital and care home staff) who have so far lost their life to coronavirus. 

Don’t miss Adam Kay’s fun night out for its topicality and opportunity to laugh out loud, albeit muffled by a face mask!

Production Notes

This Is Going To Hurt

 Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Written by Adam Kay



Adam Kay



Running Time: One hour 20 minutes without an interval

Booking to 15th November 2020 and

then the Christmas Show at the Palace Theatre


The Apollo Theatre

Shaftesbury Avenue

London WC2 


Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the

Apollo on 28th October  2020