45. Casualty

Tapehead no 45

When a junior dentist on Cutting Edge this week explains why he decided to become a dentist, Tapehead suddenly suffers a flash of realisation: he should have been one too.

“I like meeting people and using my hands,” he smiled (who doesn’t pal ?) Plus his only ‘O’ level was in woodwork. An obvious dentist !

Meanwhile, at the Royal London Hospital, student dentists are presented with their first patients – “to get the feel of the instruments, to feel yourself cutting through gum, cutting through to the bone.” Gulp.

Luckily, the gums belong to pig’s heads. After two more years in the lecture labs and theatres the students are “let loose” on live patients (pigs running around everywhere).

The most amusing op is the one in which the patient just groans and groans (growlingly). The more he groans the more the dentist says, “Well done, that’s great.”

“Arrrrghh !” screams the patient.

Look out for Jordan, a four year old who’s had severe toothache for two years, according to his dork of a dad. The dentist blames it on Ribena and Jordan’s dad is told his son’s got to have 10 teeth out. Tapehead pours his Ribena down the sink.

Just before the op, the surgical dentist asks Jordan’s dad if he’s told his on what’s going to happen.
“Erm, not really no,” Jordan sucks on the “magic wind” and the dentist snarls, “Let’s get to work.”

Meanwhile, down the road at University College Hospital, on Inside Story, Junior Doctor Stephen Cahn is on the 56 hour shift. His personal best is 120 hours. (Daley Thomson, eat your heart out.)

“Why the hell do we do it ?” he wonders cheerfully as he gently tells his patient. “Now I just need to stick a needle in your groin,” Stephen is convinced the hours don’t affect his judgement – “much” – and let’s hope he’s right if only for the sake of the person with the needle in their groin.

Straight out of college, the JDs talk about how they deal with telling patients’ relatives they’re suddenly about to die: “this job just…reaches into every corner of your life.”

On this evidence, being a junior doctor is almost as emotionally draining a job as Tapehead’s (common complaint: “residual slurring of speech”).

One junior doc groans, “I was bleeped four times last night” – not meaning he was ***ped four times last night, but bleeped, on his bleeper. As if to prove it, his bleeper goes off as he says it.

Another junior doctor loses all her sympathy points by suggesting there should be more exciting CRASH calls and less people moaning to her, “Doctor, I’m having problems, I’ve got this pain, I’m so ill, I can’t bear it…’ Things like that.”

Maybe she thought they’d be talking about the stock market.

Tapehead advises readers to amuse themselves by betting on which doctor’s patient is followed by the fatal voiceover.
“Two days later, patient X died on the ward.”
Think of it as a sort of TV version of Pin The Tail On The Donkey.

The cleaning lady in Casualty obviously knows the feeling. When she complains of head pains, the doctor looks worried, tells her she’s got to go home, and orders a CT scan. The cleaning lady, obviously hearing the words “two hours later, patient X died suddenly…” does a bunk.

This is the first “Cas” of this series to live up to former glories.

Besides a drunken old dosser trying to do a Magic Eye picture, the highlight is a juicy sub-plot straight out of Taggart or Cracker.

Clubland violence, a Stanley knife slash to the eye, a dark twist of events between an impossibly handsome thug and his partner in crime and Bob’s Your Uncle: a brilliant Casualty.

And you don’t see Doctor Mike or Sister Charlie moaning about patients moaning about being ill.

When it’s as good as this, Casualty is better than real life.


Cutting Edge, Mon, 9-10pm, C4
Inside Story, Thu, 10-1.45pm, BBC1
Casualty, Sat, 8-8.50pm, BBC1