Getting On

By David Knox on January 7, 2010 / Filed Under Programming, Reviews 18

gonGet ready for the television antithesis of Grey’s Anatomy. In Getting On there are no doctors and nurses doin’ it, no contemporary adult rock soundtrack, no soapie cliffhangers. Heck there really isn’t even any colour to speak of.

Instead this austere UK satire is painfully bleak, drowning in its own hospital blue. But in truth we also find dark, dark comedy.

Created by comedienne Jo Brand, this is a mockumentary set in a public hospital. But unlike The Office it steers away from the buffoonery of David Brent. The ramifications of the situations ring a much darker bell. Joined by co-stars Joanna Scanlan (Sister Den Flixter) and Vicki Pepperdine (Dr. Pippa Moore) the three ladies both write and star in this comedy, with Ricky Grover as the sole male principal as Matron Hilary Loftus.

Brand plays Nurse Kim Wilde (no, not that one) a veteran nurse who returns to work and struggles with the public hospital systems. In the first episode one of the elderly female patients expires. Flixter and Wilde have to go through her belongings. They debate whether to eat the poor woman’s 87th Birthday Cake. Wilde pilfers the Starburst lollies. Another patient has left faeces on a chair. That requires a number of forms to be filled out before they decide whether to flush it or keep it for Dr. Moore’s stool tests. Instead it just sits there…

Silent elderly patients lay in beds like God’s Waiting Room. One is ranting in Indian, Pakistani, or another subcontinent language nobody can understand. After being spoken down to by Flixter and Moore, Wilde manages to communicate with the poor woman merely by a look. Sometimes old methods are far more effective than trying to follow new rules.

This is a dry, dry series, devoid of the emotion of Nurse Jackie, the emergency turmoil of ER and the mystery-solving of House. As such it is also darkly funny.

Much of the comedy is ad-libbed by the four principals, talking over one another as hand-held cameras bring a realism to the situations. There’s subtext, rhetorical questions, sarcasm and a lot of saving face. Brand’s gormless delivery is delicious all-care-no-responsibility for fear of treading on the rules of hospital administration.

But be warned. There were just 3 episodes made of this in 2009.

Waste no time. Check in to Getting On and have your funny bone tickled.

4_starsGetting On airs 8:35pm Wednesday on ABC1.


  1. Myron January 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm -

    I work as a Nurse in a Hospital and this is so real its not funny but painful to watch. Been there done that for most scenes.

  2. max tickner April 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm -

    Absolutely brilliant and (as husband of a nurse) I’m assured ‘true to life…’
    Please, please don’t let the Americans get their hands on it and butcher it as they did with The Office; Life on Mars; Pennies from Heaven etc etc etc
    And nice to see ‘real’ people – not a beautiful, toothy or pouting Hollywood wanna-bes among them.
    Yours aye, Max (in Australia)

  3. mezza April 18, 2011 at 8:59 am -

    They have already made a second series – there are 6 episodes. As a nurse myself, I can relate to alot of the content – it’s hilarious.

    Series 1 & 2 are available on dvd from the ABC Shop for $29.95

  4. Jay murray January 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm -

    Does anyone know if and where you can buy the DVDs in Australia? It is hilarious

  5. Leone Churchill January 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm -

    When are they going to repeat this show , I loved it, and did they eventually make more episodes, 3 was definately not enough. I love Jo Brand she is a scream, the others are fantastic too.
    It is now January 2011, and I have been waiting for this show to be repeated, but nothing so far. Meanwhile they repeat other shows ad-nausium.

  6. Mary Hancock May 2, 2010 at 1:34 am -

    To Robyn Lev – You can buy a dvd copy from BBC shop.
    Tel: 08448489799

    Pre-ordering of second series is now available from them too.
    A wonderful series – very realistic send-up.

  7. Graypz March 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm -

    Brilliant portrayal of real health care as you’ll find it. Wish there were more than just the three episodes. Each character is a distillation of real health workers – I’ve worked with them all I can assure you!

  8. Robyn Lev February 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm -

    What a hilarious show – a must see!! Please please bring it back soon.
    Can I get a DVD of it from anywhere. ABC Shop hasn’t heard of it.

  9. Louise February 10, 2010 at 8:14 pm -

    Brilliant! Funny! Addictive show! Why was only 3 episodes made?

  10. David Knox February 4, 2010 at 11:42 am -

    Alas only 3 eps made. Honest!

  11. bec February 4, 2010 at 11:06 am -

    What happened to this show last night? I was devastated it wasn’t on – and I can’t find out where it’s gone. David, can you help?? Please don’t tell me it’s been shunted to ABC-Two – I don’t have digital!!!!!

  12. Mike January 9, 2010 at 6:43 am -

    Looking foward to this show sounds great !!!!

  13. RT January 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm -

    I have had this show on DVD for a month or so now and have watched a few times and it is superb! A second series has been commissioned by the BBC… can’t wait.

  14. SJ January 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm -

    Sounds better then the usual med show

  15. Christie January 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm -

    Sounds boring.

  16. Steve January 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm -

    I also saw it on a Cathay Pacific flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. From memory, I believe that Jo Brand used to be a nurse, so I wonder how much of the programme was inspired by her own experiences.

  17. Johnson January 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm -

    This program was available on video-on-demand inflight entertainment of Cathay Pacific flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong last month, and was in a list of recommended programs.

  18. pietro January 7, 2010 at 7:39 am -

    I thought this was extremely well done and you’ll like it if you enjoy a black comedy of discomfort.

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