Whishaw told a press briefing last month that he had been “incredibly struck by the authenticity” of Adam Kay’s script, which is based on the former NHS doctor’s best-selling biography of the same name.
“It was such an achievement for Adam to have got that down on a page in the way he did so for me it was a very straightforward decision,” said the Paddington and Danish Girl star. “I remember Adam saying he wanted it to be a love letter to the NHS and I just thought ‘well that sounds like a good thing for me to do’.”
Whishaw plays the lead in the seven-part series chronicling Kay’s time working in a gynaecology ward, which he left in 2010 before writing the best-selling book several years later. The adaptation is produced by Jane Featherstone and Elisabeth Murdoch’s Sister, Kay’s Terrible Productions and AMC Studios, and is directed by The End of the F***ing World’s Lucy Forbes.
Kay said there was “only one person in my mind who could play me” and he had “no Plan B” if Whishaw had turned the part down.
He stressed that the book and TV show spotlight the NHS “with all of its flaws and characters,” and should help doctors when they’re feeling isolated.
“When the book came out I got messages from people saying they were the first to cry in the locker room but never talked about it,” he added. “Hopefully in showing these complicated people dealing with an almost impossibly difficult job, it will remind doctors, midwives and healthcare professionals that it’s OK not to be alright.”
Whishaw said people treat doctors in an almost god-like manner, refusing to accept their limitations.
“It’s easy to forget that the people treating you are human and fallible, people who are doing these extraordinarily difficult jobs.”
The show was shot during the pandemic, which limited Whishaw and co-star Ambika Mod’s attempts to learn the basics of surgery.