The Young Ones


Rik Mayall in The Young Ones.

Way back in 1982 comedic lightning struck at the BBC. Over 12 surreal and hectic episodes The Young Ones brought Britain's new wave of so-called alternative comedy to mainstream audiences and made cultural icons of four hapless, unmotivated university students living in a squalid share house. Deranged punk medical student Vyvyan (Adrian Edmonson), cowardly, pretentious anarchist Rick (Rik Mayall), depressed hippie Neil (Nigel Planer) and shrewd, libidinous "cool guy" Mike (Christopher Ryan) lived lives of intense boredom, poverty and mutual antagonism punctuated by various exciting events. Events such as discovering oil in the cellar, discovering a stray atom bomb in the kitchen, and getting a surprise visit from the TV licence inspector. All the while they remained oblivious to a surreal peripheral reality in which fairytale characters cavorted, demons rose from hell, and puppet versions of household items involved themselves in all sorts of tangents and non-sequiturs. Sudden musical performances by bands such as Motorhead, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Madness added to the feeling of … well … madness. Series creators Ben Elton, Mayall and Lise Mayer based their scripts in earthy share-house humour (that earthiness extending, inevitably, to night soil), but they used them to comment on everything from endemic racism and brutality among British police forces to the pretentiousness and sanctimony of obnoxious students like Rick. All these years later it remains a singular delight, with guest appearances by the young Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Alexei Sayle adding to the fun. Killer episode: "Bambi", in which our heroes, accompanied by Vyvyan's irascible pet hamster, Special Patrol Group, undertake an epic journey to compete on a student quiz show. Marvellous.

When Patients Attack


An eye-opening documentary following the work of the security team employed to protect staff and patients at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The burly, black-clad guards – all of them wearing protective "stab vests" – look like a paramilitary outfit as they patrol the hospital hallways waiting for trouble to "kick off". Naturally, it doesn't take long. There are violent drunks, patients affected by drugs, regular "nuisance patients" who repeatedly seek admission and get aggressive when told to leave, and even a man who woke up in a rage after brain surgery. The documentary provides a few statistics (there were 67,000 assaults on UK hospital staff in 2014) but doesn't delve into the history of the problem or what other approaches might help mitigate it.


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