A couple of weeks ago, I was at the coast when a team of lifeguards pulled up in a Land Rover and ran barefoot into the sea. Almost immediately afterwards, a lady pushed passed me, narrowly avoiding falling on her face to get a look at what very well could have been a real life tragedy.
âBradley!â? she screamed at her dawdling son, far behind her. âQuick weâre going to miss it. Ooh, someone must be in trouble, Bradley!â?
What a shame it would have been for Bradley to miss the opportunity to watch someone possibly drown. Bradley must surely, like his mother, love misery. We all love misery, though, donât we? Itâs why we slow down for car crashes, hoping to catch a glimpse of blood or (with any luck!) a bit of brain. Itâs why The Daily Mail is the worldâs most popular online newspaper and why Radiohead have sold so many records.
I mean, active listeners of their music must surely want to be miserable, right? Like some sort of punishment? Itâs the same reason why, you might presume, BBCâs Great Ormond Street has found such an avid viewership. The same could be said for More Fourâs 24 Hours in A&E or the BBCâs Hospital 24/7 or Discoveryâs Hospital Sydney, Fat Hospital or The Hospital, Kidsâ Hospital or my entirely fictional new shows Dead Baby Seal Hospital and Guaranteed Misery Hospital.
In all fairness, however, some do provide a unique insight at what goes on inside hospitals. Great Ormond Street reveals a lot about the great work that medical professionals do on a daily basis at the childrenâs hospitalâand to its credit, it does so with great sensitivity for the patients and their families. But with so many hospital documentary series on the box at the moment, there certainly seems to be a trend of TV channels pandering to lovers of misery.
Take the latest episode of 24 Hours in A&E, for example, which opens with a cacophony of intense male screams.
âOHHHH! OH! JESUS! GOD!â? yells one man, whose neck is in a brace.
Thereâs some generic ER-style music and then a doctor is heard shouting: âStabbing! Code red.â? And then, just in case youâre not wincing yet, ten minutes of the programme are devoted to a topless builder, who has injured his shoulder so badly that his screams can be heard from the other side of the hospital. Peculiarly, upbeat pizzicato violin music begins to play, coupled with reaction shots of people grinning, as if his pain is amusing in some way.
Great Ormond Street is understandably less sensationalist, but itâs by no means an easy watch. Itâs more emotionally draining than watching Rolf Harrisâ Animal Hospital, over and over again, nonstop, for days, as Rolf himself drowns newly born puppies in the corner of your living room. Along with the recent slew of bleak Scandinavian crime dramas, itâs just a bit too muchâa bit too much misery. Misery in moderation? Sure. But letâs tone it down. We donât need a variety of hospital documentary series. Really, we donât even need two. Just the one perhaps. Maybe just Hilltop Hospital?