113. Paramedic

Tapehead no 113

Passing swiftly over the horror that is Trust Me, I’m A Doctor (a prostate-cancer special), you know Casualty is going to be good when the opening shot is of a cute little mute skipping down to the sweet shop. From then on, it’s just a question of how she gets it.

When she skips back home, all the signs are there that something suitably violent is about to happen – an ironing board at first, then promising hints of freebase cocaine abuse, and then a body that causes her to run out into the street. Then, of course, there is the Rottweiler.

In case we hadn’t really grasped that the little, girl is deaf and dumb, we get several scenes (silently) showing the character’s point of view.

Elsewhere, there is a wedding (another one), some football (ditto), and that old chestnut, epilepsy. The line “we were happy just living together” was in last week’s episode too.

Saint Charlie and the Angel Jude are in fine form, with definite sighs that, after what seems like years of courtship (foreplay), Matt the soft receptionist and the gorgeous Jude are now about to become the new Ken and Deirdre or David and Cindy. Tapehead thinks they should have their own series.

For the best line this week, take your pick.

“Drugs OD, PV bleed, give it to her IV, make it 50,” sounds like a fade-out rap on the new Mobb Deep album.

Or what about one doctor exclaiming: “crackheads ! What’s the point ?!” 

(The modern equivalent of: “War ! What is t good for ?!”)

The winner, though, has to be Baz: “I can feel a pregnant uterus.”

Whatever you say, Baz.. 

The horrible twee paramedics on Casualty (Joss and Shortie) never behave like the real-life ambulance people on Red Base One Four, the tragically titled fly-on-the wall series about the ailing London Ambulance Service. (Can we get an IV into it? Or get the heart thumper out to revive it ?)

Part one is taken up mostly by a rather uneventful OAP who has fallen over (she would never get into Casualty just doing that).

We get at least 10 minutes of the ambulance-men shouting into her good ear.

“Did you have a bit of a fall ?”

The poor dear was born in 1898.

“You’re looking very young for your age,” consoles the paramedic, “despite your black eyes…I said: DESPITE. YOUR. BLACK. EYES !”

The staff in general are seriously un-reassuring; pure Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones. (Not a Charlie Fairhead in sight.)

The government demands that 95 per cent of calls receive a response within 14 minutes, but when the first team arrive at the first call, the patient has, unfortunately, croaked, and have thereby missed his chance to get on the telly,

“Okay,” says the ambulance-man. “Nice one”, and then leaves.

The cameraman likes sitting up in the front seat when they get a call, like a little kid. It is equal parts bureaucracy (“It’s all about sub-standard allocating decisions …about the quality of calls”) and injury action.

Some ambulance staff are complaining about being “on stand-by,” which means hanging around street corners in Leicester Square on Saturday night waiting for action (like ambulance-chasers really) rather than waiting back at the station. Their union leader says they’re complaining about “getting harassed by pimps and junkies” which sounds OK to Tapehead.

At 12.30 am, the team get a call about a man threatening to jump off a bridge.

“I’ll park up a bit nearer,” says the ambulance-man, Ian Simpson. “In case he goes off, like. If he goes in the bushes we ain’t gonna get anywhere near.”

By the end, he assessed the shift as “not that interesting.”

“The suicide on the bridge was quite good I thought. Good entertainment.”

They’re not like that in Casualty, are they ?


Trust Me, I’m A Doctor: Weds, 8pm, BBC2

Casualty: Sat, 8.05pm, BBC1

Red Base One Four: Sun, 9pm, C4