Not a spoonful of sugar in sight...

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It's 8pm, it's BBC1. From the opening titles - the blue-tinted graphics of doctors looking at X-rays, monitors measuring heartbeats, frantic wheeling of patients on trolleys - the theme tune (with its sinister sound of breathing equipment), and the initial shot of cars on a busy road, the scene is set for Casualty. But instead it's the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, and the grunts and groans, the sea of tubes, the injuries and the equipment are all for real. This is Intensive Care, a new series which seems to be the Beeb's belated response to Jimmy's. If you survived that weekly trawl around the wards, Hospital Watch, and all the fictitious medical shows that have filled our screens lately - ER, Cardiac Arrest etc - perhaps you'll enjoy a bit more prime-time pain and suffering to wash your dinner down.

You'll thrill as a 16-year-old boy writhes in agony, his body thrown into spasm by a head injury, and gasp as an elderly woman undergoes a major hernia op which the anaesthetist tells her is "a bit dodgy".

The adjustment from fictional portrayals of the medical establishment to the real thing is disturbingly slight, which makes the programme even harder to watch.

The underlying issue is, of course, lack of resources and pressure on beds, which are demonstrated all too poignantly in tonight's episode, "Frustrations".

Sadistic couch potatoes have never had it so good.