Last night's viewing - Keeping Britain Alive: the NHS in a Day, BBC2; The Mindy Project, E4

 

If, as Nigel Lawson said, the NHS is the closest thing the English have to a religion, then fly-on-the- wall documentaries about the NHS are the closest thing television commissioners have to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. They are guaranteed crowd-pullers. As a result, one is rarely more than four hours away from the swabs, beeps and tears of a hosp-doc.

 The latest series to celebrate the everyday miracle that is the world’s largest free healthcare system is Keeping Britain Alive: the NHS in a Day. On 18 October 2012, 100 camera crews set up camp in hospitals and surgeries across the country to record what the NHS does in a single day. This conceit allowed for plenty of mind-boggling statistics – one day equals 1.5 million patients, 1,500 deaths, 2,000 births, 400 strokes etc – and a 24-style clock, which ratcheted up tension and counted the hours as medical professionals juggled time, beds, care and cuts.

The statistics were nothing compared with the real human drama. There was cutting-edge neurosurgery on a stroke victim, the saga of Lynn’s gastric-band operation hitting a devastating hitch and proud Mrs Evans, 90, who didn’t care for treatment so long as she could have a bed near some daylight. In between, there were addicts, malingerers and impatient patients. Obesity and old age repeatedly reared their heads as the biggest threats to the nation’s health and NHS finances.

This was a celebration of healthcare heroics, without Danny Boyle’s dancing nurses – or a visit to Mid Staffs. Hospital staff talked pragmatically to camera about budgets, but faced with patients, their compassion won every time. “She came in for one problem, found another and the NHS will take care of that,” said surgeon Mr Pring of Lynn. “It’s a big care blanket around her that’s going to look after her.” It was a lump-in-thethroat moment and if as viewers we have seen it all a hundred times before, it pays to remind oneself of those holding the big care blanket from time to time. Nye Bevan would be proud of them all.

What he would have made of Dr Mindy Lahiri, I’m not so sure. The obstetrician heroine of new American sitcom The Mindy Project frequently shows up to work in last night’s tootight dress, sleeps with her colleagues and keeps a chocolate fountain in her consulting room. Episode one began with her giving an excruciating speech at her ex’s wedding, before she hopped on a Mary Poppins bike and pratcycled into a swimming pool, where she had a conversation with a Barbie doll about being 31 and single. Someone call a doctor – this could be terminal. Add to that a terrible Clarissa Explains It All knock-off theme tune and its billing, following the new series of New Girl on E4, and you could have been forgiven for expecting kook carnage.

In fact, The Mindy Project is, like its leading lady, rather cleverer than it looks. At first glance, Mindy is another BMIobsessed, frappé-slurping, rom-com-quoting ditz, but there’s bite beneath the helium voice. The creation of American Office alumna Mindy Kaling (she played Kelly Kapoor and wrote for the show), she drinks too much, talks too much, and is stridently a “woman of colour” only when it suits her (at one point she asks for “more white patients”). Up-to-the-minute barbs at Downton, Judd Apatow and health insurance zing through a script that is not afraid to be awkward.

The set-up of hopeless single gal with two guy pals will be familiar to New Girl fans, but each of the threesome – which includes macho divorce Dr Danny (Chris Messina) and silkysmooth cad Dr Jeremy (British comedian Ed Weeks) – has sharply observed quirks. “I think he’s Hugh Grant in About a Boy,” moons Mindy after a one-night wonder with Jeremy. “I think he’s Hugh Grant in real life,” snaps back her best friend. By the end of the first episode, they already felt like old friends. I watched the second straight away. The prognosis looks good.

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?