Five Minutes With...Dr Phil Hammond

Dr Phil Hammond
Dr Phil Hammond
Katherine Ryan

REVIEW: Katherine Ryan at the Portsmouth Guildhall

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Critically-acclaimed, Edinburgh sell-out Dr Phil Rude’s Health Show comes to The Berry Theatre next weekend.

It stars GP, writer and broadcaster Phil Hammond. He is Private Eye’s medical correspondent and has appeared on Have I Got News for You, The News Quiz, The Now Show Countdown and The One Show.

Says Phil: ‘The show is a subtle mixture of the political and the anatomical.

‘You’ll laugh and learn stuff, and it’s surprisingly good for your health.

‘I blow the whistle on everything (politicians, doctors, patients, death, drugs, sex, myself). Free swabs and sick notes for all.’

We caught up with him ahead of his Hedge End tour date, to find out more.

When did you first realise you were funny?

At school. When you’ve got ginger hair, freckles and glasses, you have to develop a sense of humour or no-one ever speaks to you. And, if you don’t laugh as a doctor, you become an alcoholic.

But there’s a big difference between making the nurses giggle in the sluice room for free and expecting strangers to pay money to see you be funny. 1989 was my first open mike slot – as a warm up for Arnold Brown – and if I’d died on stage, I would have given up.

When did you decide to take your career in that direction, with a comedy show?

Comedy started off as my therapy, and a way of making sense of working 120 hours a week as a junior doctor. Then it became a pleasure and a passion.

I still work as a GP, because I need the material, and I find the combination of doing medicine, exposing the dark side as a journalist and then laughing it off on stage keeps me sane.

Name three things that make you laugh.

Unintended humour makes me laugh most. There’s a clip of a woman in tight Lycra splitting her pants as she pushes off her bobsleigh that never fails to cheer me up.

I also like punchlines that you don’t see coming – like a knight’s move in chess.

And people who can bring the house down without saying a word. Tommy Cooper excelled at this.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The variety. On Monday I’m a doctor. On Tuesday I’m an investigative journalist. Then I might do some lecturing and a few comedy gigs, write a few new gags and a sitcom before ending the week with some broadcasting.

Who’s your biggest hero?

Dame Cicely Saunders – founder of the hospice movement. If we could guarantee everyone a good death, we could live our lives as we wanted, safe in the knowledge it won’t be too painful and distressing at the end.

Dr Phil’s Rude Health Show is at The Berry Theatre, Hedge End, on Saturday, May 26, from 8pm. Tickets cost £15 (£13 concessions and NHS employees) from theberrytheatre.co.uk or 01489 799 499.