Saturday, January 5, 2008

Aren’t you that hospital off the telly?

My local hospital is Whipps Cross. It’s quite similar to a lot of hospitals all over the country. There’s an old bit, which is sort of Gothic looking and spooky, and then there’s a modern bit stuck on the side, which is all shiny and plastic like a Fisher Price toy hospital. On Friday I was passing from the old part into the new – the architectural equivalent of time travel – when a framed black and white photograph on the wall caught my eye. It showed a film crew with a camera on a crane, outside the main entrance to the hospital. A caption beneath the picture read, ‘Filming of Doctor in the House, 1973’. I’m too young to remember Doctor in House. In 1973, the bawdiness of a bunch of randy doctors chasing nubile young nurses around would have been lost on me. I was more into rusks than rumpy-pumpy. But I do know that Graham Chapman and John Cleese wrote some of the scripts, which means that scenes written by two real-life Pythons were acted out and filmed at Whipps Cross Hospital. My hospital. Touched by the hand of Chapman and Cleese. How brilliant is that? David Beckham may have been born at Whipps Cross, but what sort of desperate claim to fame is that? Did David Beckham write the ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’? I don’t think so. Now I know a little bit about the showbiz past of my hospital, I look at the place in a whole new light. I wouldn’t say I’m starstruck exactly, but it’s nice to think that the hospital I go to with my bum trouble has played a small role in the history of British comedy. And I can’t say I’m all that surprised. I’ve always thought there was something funny about Whipps Cross.

The classic theme tune to Whipps Cross based hospital romp-com, Doctor in the House.