24 Hours in A&E, TV review: Moments of comedy amid tear-jerking, life-and-death drama

 

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The Independent Culture

Channel 4's documentary 24 Hours in A&E should probably be renamed Perspective and prescribed on the NHS as the antidote for anyone feeling a bit sorry for themselves. This week featured another collection of those "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God" scenarios and another set of calm, compassionate medical professionals doing the National Health Service proud.

Anyone with a DIY enthusiast in the family will have winced in sympathy for Margaret, the pensioner whose husband landed in A&E after falling off the top of a ladder. She told him it was dangerous, but did he listen? Bubbly drama student Maria won my heart with her passionate telly-watching: "I have, like, over 50 shows that I track on my laptop and then I've got the shows that I watch on TV. And it's not easy keeping that schedule." Tell me about it, Maria. She also won my respect, however, with her upbeat approach to living with two complicated chronic illnesses.

As usual, 24 Hours managed to squeeze moments of comedy in amid the tear-jerking, life-and-death drama. Those two posh ladies in the waiting room should become show regulars – they're this hospital's answer to Statler and Waldorf in The Muppet Show: "Just think how many lives must flash before how many eyes in A&E?" mused one. "Absolutely," replied the other: "I watch Casualty [pronounced 'Cash-u-al-itee'], so I know all about these things."

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