Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2002

**** Blisteringly funny and a blistering indictment all at once

Phil Hammond is a doctor, comedian and forthright critic of health malpractices. Somehow he makes this blend work a treat.

As Private Eye magazine's health columnist, it was Hammond who blew the whistle on the Bristol heart surgery scandal. His most recent achievement is to get the colour of some bottles changed, which may not sound much but will prevent a large number of avoidable deaths in hospital... of which, he tells us, there are some 70,000 a year in Britain. His show is an unusual but remarkable combination of comedy and outrage, mixing grim anecdotes and statistics with sardonic gags a world away from medical-student sniggering. He remarks caustically that "If [Winston Churchill] hadn't won the war, we'd have a health service like the Germans," and demonstrates bizarreries like the grotesquely inappropriate set of juggling balls given free to GPs by a drug company marketing a treatment for Parkinson's disease.

There has been a lot of artificial shock-horror on this year's Fringe, as the media whip up silly-season scandal stories from the merest froth. The content of Hammond's show is something to get genuinely and righteously outraged about, and to do so along with him. It's also bloody funny.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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