Intended for healthcare professionals


The Brain Hospital

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 30 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1178
  1. Christopher Martyn (

Medical soap operas are a gift for television directors and script writers, which is presumably why they are so common. There is the inherent drama of sudden illness and urgent need for treatment. A constant stream of patients makes it easy to introduce new characters and kill off old ones. And the setting allows new or bizarre situations to be engineered without taxing the viewers' suspension of disbelief. If that is not enough, the medical and nursing staff can always sleep with each other.

Medical documentaries are a more difficult proposition. First, the underlying intent to inform and educate demands that the content is as correct as it can be for an inexpert audience. No director of a documentary could get away with the capricious diagnostic suggestions that Dr House, for example, inflicts on his junior staff. Second, the programme must avoid descending into the medical equivalent of pornography. Nowadays, it's unacceptable for …

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