TV: Hospital People, Episode Four, BBC1

After a week off to squeeze in the Masterchef Final Hospital People returns and it is as if it has never been away. No, really. The comedy is as broad as ever, the jokes are definitely as cheesy as ever. 

There is a big guest star though this week. Russell Brand plays nutritionist Tyler Watt, who is brought in to radicalise Brimlington hospital’s menus after head porter Big John dies. Manager Susan Mitchell doesn’t seem to mind patients dying all the time, but when a member of staff pops their clogs this is different.

It’s not a big stretch for Brand's Watt as he sweeps through the hospital confiscating sugary foods. He's “a man from humble beginnings with a powerful message that changes the world.” Sounds like he’s got a bit of a messiah complex like someone else who wears tight trousers and a beard not a million miles away. 

Brand helps to bring the episode to life but it’s Tom Binns who does the heavy lifting as most of the characters, from scouse priest Father Kenny to Susan Mitchell to porter-cum-psychic Ian D Montfort, who takes over Big John’s office to do Tarot readings.

It’s all fairly undemanding stuff, but, as I’ve noted before, some of the jokes do feel a little old*. Father Kenny knowingly does old jokes, but some of the other gags don’t always feel boxfresh. Watt/Brand describing himself as a tool feels like a direct descendent of Rowan Atkinson’s mime artist describing his body as a tool on Not The Nine O’Clock News. And then later Binns’ DJ Ivan Brackenbury also cracks a similar “tool” gag. If that was being post-modern it went right over my head. 

In the end, of course, Watts' revolutionary sugar ban fails and he goes off in a huff and a transit (cue visual gag). Never mind his sugar ban, maybe the episode should opt for a cheese ban. Except that then there wouldn’t be much dialogue left.

*The credits for this episode say the writer is Matt Morgan, who has worked with Brand regularly, with additional material by Tom Binns and Paul Doolan. 

Friday, May 19, BBC1, 9.30pm. Catch up here.


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