QUACKS, BBC2, 10pm

I CAN’T remember the last time a BBC comedy made me laugh. The funniest new work on TV just now comes from Channel 4, and much of the BBC’s classic comedy is now on Netflix.

This new six-part series is a Victorian medical comedy, set in the grisly time before antiseptic, anaesthesia or basic science.

Rory Kinnear plays a dashing surgeon who’s something of a celebrity. Crowds flock to his operating theatre to swoon and gasp as he amputates legs in just 90 seconds.

We also meet his friends and colleagues, such as Matthew Baynton’s fledgling psychiatrist, who is trying to introduce some radical ideas to the vile asylums – such as treating the patients as humans rather than animals.

I enjoyed this as a curiosity rather than a comedy. There were no huge laughs but lots of quirks and wit.


A PATIENT starts having a violent fit in a lift (during the world’s longest lift ride, which seems to last for hours) and Cath cries in desperation, “I don’t know what to do!” I wonder if the writer said the same thing on realising how implausible his story was.

Cath/Ally keeps having wobbly moments where her knowledgeable colleagues look at her suspiciously, but then they say “nah!” and ignore their worries. In fact the only person who’s on her case is the HR manager who keeps nagging her to produce her passport. Cath should have known this would happen when she began her elaborate con, but she obviously shrugged and said “nah!”, just like everyone else.

There’s even a moment tonight where she confesses everything to the little old lady who lives beside her, and what does little old lady do? Just says “nah!”, laughs it off, and refuses to believe her.

Admittedly there is some tension when Cath attends a conference in Glasgow and an old colleague seems to recognise her.