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August 11, 2016

Reviews of both Edinburgh Fringe Shows
Filed under: Edinburgh Fringe 2016 — Dr. Phil @ 6:59 pm

I’m doing two shows at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, August 5-27

3.05 PM Life and Death (But Mainly Death) – on at 19.05 on Aug 21 only
10.05 PM Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution with Dr Margaret McCartney

Tickets  here   in advance, or walk up to @theSpace Venue 43 box office:
Symposium Hall, Hill Square (Off Nicolson Street), Edinburgh EH8 9DW
0131 5102385

Come and say hello after

Some very nice reviews below…


Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution ★★★★

Fest Magazine

By Si Hawkins

Published 09 August 2016

One wonders if Jeremy Hunt might send an incognito aide to see this show. If so, the awkward stooge should be easy to spot. This being an onstage revolution, there’s an awful lot of chanting – a hefty chunk of it directed at the health secretary. Although the rhyming couplets are more creative than you might expect.

If you weren’t particularly worried about the future of our healthcare system before this show, you definitely will be by the end of it. Practising doctor and popular comedian, journalist, radio presenter and medical sitcom-writer Dr Phil Hammond has been a high-profile campaigner since his junior doctor days in the early 1990s. But the NHS now faces its biggest crisis since then, hence this, his first return to Edinburgh in five years, and a passionate call for action.

In truth, most of his audience are on board already. Lots of health workers are in, and the constant chuntering of approval give this the feel of a rally as much as a show. Hammond is a fine rabble rouser—aided by guest Dr Margaret McCartney, who reveals some troubling stats about NHS wastage—and, unlike most politicians, he remains impressively positive throughout, despite the weighty issues.

To keep things light Hammond utilises slogan T-shirts, children’s toys, handy acronyms, those chants and singalongs; there’s even a nice shout-out to lefty children’s TV genius Oliver Postgate, whose ’60s show The Clangers surreptitiously suggested a more caring model for a modern utopia. The perfect health secretary if that ideal world ever happens? Dr Phil Hammond.


Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution Review

BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL Feature: The Big Picture

Stand up for the NHS: Margaret McCartney joins Phil Hammond on stage in Edinburgh

By Bryan Christie

Published 09 August 2016

Margaret McCartney, the Glasgow GP and columnist for The BMJ, made her Edinburgh Fringe Festival debut last week. She joined the doctor and comedian Phil Hammond in an hour long show urging the audience to form a popular movement to save the NHS from market mayhem.

Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution is a verbal Punch and Judy act. The villains are dishonest politicians, profiteering corporations, and market solutions. The heroes are striking junior doctors, Britain’s army of carers, and evidence based decision making.

McCartney heads the revolution’s Anti Bollocksology Unit, providing facts that people need to know about today’s NHS.

Hunt and homeopathy

It is not an hour that England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would much enjoy. His support in 2007 for a motion in parliament defending NHS homeopathic hospitals is highlighted as an example of his unfitness for the job. His use of questionable mortality statistics to justify his drive for a seven day NHS is another. Hammond combined these two in one of the best jokes of the night: “The statistics that come out of Jeremy Hunt’s mouth don’t have any trace of the original statistic in them.”

The Labour Party may have created the NHS, but it does not escape Hammond and McCartney’s anger. It was the same Labour Party that also introduced PFI—the private finance initiative or “pay for it indefinitely,” as they suggest it should be renamed. PFI will result in taxpayers being charged a total of £100bn in ongoing payments for the construction of £10bn worth of hospitals, they said.

Rants with references

McCartney treated the audience to some “rants with references.” One was, “We are treating more and more people at lower and lower risk for conditions they may never get in life.” This trend has led to the idea of pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension. What next, asked McCartney, pre-death?

“There isn’t enough rational debate about the NHS in the mainstream media,” McCartney told The BMJ when asked about her motivation to take to the stage this summer. “I’m worried that the reasons for the perilous state of the NHS aren’t getting fair hearings—it’s underfunded and, worse, we are wasting fortunes on non-evidence based, thought-up-in-the-bath, short term party political policy.

“What do we want? Evidence based policy making! When do we want it? After systematic review and independent cost effectiveness analysis!”

Although the subject matter could not have been more serious, the show’s bitter pill was coated with comedic sugar, contrasting the values of the NHS with the absurdity of much that goes on in its name.

“We have to pay for the NHS. We have to look after ourselves. We have to protest. If we don’t fight for the NHS now, we’re stuffed,” said Hammond in his final plea. The audience cheered, eager conscripts to the revolution.

“What do we want? Evidence based policy making! When do we want it? After systematic review and independent cost effectiveness analysis!”

Footnotes


Life and Death (But Mainly Death) ★★★★

Broadway Baby

by Timothy Leonine Tsang

Published 9th August 2016

In spite of the morbid title, Dr Phil Hammond’s stand-up show makes mischief of the macabre. I was already taken in when he tells the audience that those who have seen a play with ‘death’ in the title are statistically more likely to die (no correlation of course).

Laughter is thinned out tactfully to address a range of issues that include Jeremy Hunt and the state of mental health

Dr Phil’s act comes with a powerpoint. This set-up is not unfamiliar to the audience, who may have seen him before on Have I Got News For You and various media productions on the BBC. Though the majority of the viewers are more mature and elderly, there is no shortage of young viewers who, I’m sure, immensely enjoyed this show.

The entire routine is a narrative effort, as Dr Phil starts with his little known family history, tracing the past to explain his lifelong desire to work for the NHS and Private Eye. There are memorable wisecracks along the way about family dynamics, and about deaths to loved ones that are commemorated with a humour seldom flippant, but which shone with a hindsight that is particularly heartwarming.

It is rather rare for a comic to sustain momentum throughout, yet Dr Phil manages so by segueing into more worldly terrain later on, as he muses upon our society at large. Laughter is thinned out tactfully to address a range of issues that include Jeremy Hunt and the state of mental health in this country. Comedy makes way for tribute to a compassionate society.

Dr Phil delivers a hugely enjoyable hour of well-crafted stand-up, a welcome reprieve from other performers these days who dabble with too much at once. This veteran of the comic circuit revels in the poignant, and provides just the tonic for the aged.


Life and Death But Mainly Death

FringeReview

By Kate Saffin

Published August 12

Low Down

Dr Phil considers the deaths of two dads and his mum still gate vaulting in her eighties. And considers his own death asking is it possible not to kill yourself before your time, yet die gently when your time comes? Laugh, think about sanity and plan your exit.

Review
Phil Hammond was an NHS GP for twenty years, has worked in sexual health and now works in a specialist NHS team for young people with chronic fatigue. He first appeared at the Fringe in 1990 as half of the junior doctor double-act Struck Off and Die, has been a Private Eye journalist, is an outspoken supporter of the junior doctors in their current dispute, appeared on numerous radio programmes and written several books. So an hour in his company promises to be interesting.

He starts by cheerily announcing that people who come to see his show are more likely to die. But then again 99% of people involved in car accidents are wearing shoes which doesn’t prove that wearing shoes causes car accidents…

He wants us to think about what we want, to be talking about death – not only because it makes life easier for those you leave behind but because it brings people closer together. That in his experience as a doctor people reaching the end of their life don’t regret what they haven’t done but the time they haven’t spent with their family and friends.

He then goes on to do just that, to talk about his life and family;  sharing highs and lows in a thoroughly disarming way. He may have spent much of his childhood in Australia but he has nailed our trademark self-deprecating British humour.

Experience of death came young for him with the death of his father when he was only seven. Amidst the humour he gives us an insight into grieving as a child; how children won’t always react in the way we think they should as though they are merely mini adults.

Back in England as a teenager he followed in his father’s footsteps in his interest in science and settled on a career in medicine – where he found discussing  death and the sharing of difficult diagnoses and news with patients was all too often absent. He touches on the very serious as well, using the example of the Bristol paediatric cardiac survey scandal to highlight the importance of openness and honesty when things do go wrong.

This is a thoroughly life affirming show, mostly about death, and one everyone should see. You will leave smiling… and thoughtful. And if that hasn’t convinced you; as a child he asked his father about the meaning of life… go just to hear the answer.

 

Note:

Life and Death (But Mainly Death) is also part of the festival within the festival Death on the Fringe featuring drama, comedy, spoken word, music and other events. It is part of the ongoing charity-led campaign, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, which works to promote more openness about death, dying and bereavement.