The National Health Service was born seventy years ago, from a post-war consensus that demanded, then delivered, British healthcare that was both universal and free at the point of use. Despite under-funding, under-staffing, and decades of creeping privatisation, the NHS remains, and is one of our most beloved institutions. Note the possessive. Not ‘the’ NHS. Our NHS.
It is significant that Mark Thomas has named his show this way. Part comedy routine, part social history, and part current affairs, Our NHS at 70 tells the story of the health service through its staff, its patients, and its people – which is, as Mark points out, all of us living in Britain. The result is hilarious, informative, moving, and an inspiring tribute to a collective effort that is only as good as the people it serves.
Mark Thomas is well-known for his comic yet studious investigations and has clearly spent a great deal of time researching his subject matter. His enthusiasm is both infectious and disarming, bringing laughter one moment and stark reminders the next.
The facts and figures may not be particularly dramatic, but Mark’s performance breathes life and energy into even the driest discussions of health policy. I was by turns amazed, stunned, and horrified – and found myself wanting desperately to scribble notes lest I forget everything.
Some might say that a show about the NHS is always going to be political, but it is impressive that Thomas’ delivers his show with impartiality. He discusses the problems that come with running the health service, from bureaucracies, government interference, and human cost, both financial and mortal. He does so with humour and without political point-scoring, calling less for revolution and more for evaluation.
Our NHS at 70 is a vital work. When John Reith founded the BBC, another long-time British institution, he said the aim of the broadcasting service was to ‘inform, educate, and entertain.’ Our NHS at 70 does exactly that – a celebration of what we have accomplished, and a warning of what we could lose.
Author: Mark Thomas
Director & Producer: Nicolas Kent
Box Office: 020 7223 2223
Booking Link: https://www.bac.org.uk
Booking Until: 4th May 2019