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Radio 4
Series One 1995 (six episodes)
Series Two 1997 (one episode broadcast — see text)

Wendy Lee’s black comedy was a hard-hitting satire on the introduction of the NHS internal market.  The action is set some distance in the future, at the Bottomley Memorial Hospital (Virginia Bottomley being Minister for Health in the Conservative administration of the day) at a time when hospitals are forced to tender competitively for the right to receive individual patients.  A twisted and thoroughly unscrupulous used-car salesman turned hospital trust administrator (played by Keith Allen, a bit of a specialist in psychopaths) develops a scam to make money by undercutting rival hospitals on a few fading, elderly patients, then simply letting them die and claiming their operations were unsuccessful: needless to say, events rapidly get out of hand.  Margi Clarke played the senior staff nurse, Nerys Hughes (playing against type) one of the doctors slowly corrupted by the Allen character, and Meera Syal a drippy sluice-room attendant.

A second series began in the spring of 1997, and was immediately pulled after the airing of the first episode: a General Election had been announced and the show was apparently deemed too politically sensitive to be broadcast during the run-up (presumably in view of its savage criticism of the intrinsically Tory policy of bringing market economics into healthcare).  However, at the time of writing, more than a year after the election, the series has not, to my knowledge, received a broadcast.

© JB Sumner 1998