This satirical pilot starring Dr. Xand van Tulleken attempting to look back at the main health-related news stories of 2016 seemingly failed to get laughs.
In the programme Dr. Tulleken looked back at his favourite health headlines, examined some more unusual stories in-depth such as whether it is better to use squat toilets and Noel Edmonds’s claim that a small box can help cure cancer, plus there was also the strike by junior doctors.
However, there were plenty of problems with this pilot, starting with the cast. This is a comedy show, but there was not a single comedian on it. There were some comedians writing for the programme, but on screen it was just the doctors. You get the feeling that Second Opinion would have worked better if there was at least one comic on screen. There are a number of comedians who have worked in the medical profession that would have been suitable: Dr. Phil Hammond for example, who writes a sitcom set in a surgery for Radio 4 and is a health columnist for Private Eye; Paul Sinha and Harry Hill were both GPs, and Jo Brand was a psychiatric nurse. Any of them would have been an asset, and all would have been funnier that Tulleken, who was struggling to get laughs from his studio audience.
There were other issues as well: the editing looked rather jarring. It seemed that when it cut to a still of some text from a news story, it sounded as if there was a pre-recorded voice over from Tulleken rather than just him talking naturally. The way the show was structured seemed off too. You get the feeling that the junior doctors would have been the first story to be covered rather than last because it was such a big story at the time.
On the plus side, there was some genuine medical advice in the programme to take away, and unlike all the other “review of the year” comedy shows, at least it went out after the year had ended so it cover the entire year – at least that what it appears to be on the surface, but if you look into it further you will see it was actually recorded in November, so they actually missed an entire month.
No second opinion is needed for this pilot. This show should not make it to a full series.
Second Opinion is on the BBC iPlayer.