This Is Going To Hurt: The true story of the real Adam Kay

Photo credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

This Is Going To Hurt tells the all-too-true tale of Adam Kay and the day-to-day work he encountered on an OB/GYN ward while working as a junior doctor for the NHS.

The show is a warts-and-all, frank insight into the sacrifices doctors make every day to save lives.

Hilarious and devastating in equal measure, the show aims to show exactly how underappreciated our national health service truly is, and how we need it now more than ever.

The reason it’s grounded in such reality is because it’s come straight from the horse’s mouth – the real Adam Kay being the horse in this analogy, naturally.

Here’s what happened to the doctor and how his story became the new must-watch BBC drama.

Photo credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

This Is Going To Hurt: When did Adam Kay work for the NHS?

Adam Kay worked as a junior doctor in the NHS from 2004 to 2010 – which is why This Is Going To Hurt is set in 2006.

He focused on becoming a doctor at around at age 16 when choosing his A-levels, as it felt the ‘default setting’ considering his father, Stewart Kay, was also a doctor.

Later on, he focused on the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, joking that “it meant on average he ended up with twice the patients he started with” as he helped women give birth. However, that also came with its own tragedies, as it meant he would also look after babies who were stillborn, premature or sick. He would track his days on the ward via a diary, which he believes now was a ‘type of therapy’ while his colleagues would often turn to alcohol to cope with the stress.

Photo credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Working as a senior registrar on a labour ward, Adam’s breaking point came when a mother ended up in intensive care following a placental abruption. Her baby was sadly stillborn.

Speaking on This Morning back in 2019, Adam said: “I realised I didn’t have the emotional armour to deal with that kind of thing, and just writing down funny stories just wasn’t enough for that kind of thing. They say if you’re the most senior obstetrician on the ward, you’ll have a big disaster every five or six years, and I realised I couldn’t personally face that happening ever again.”

From his years at university, Adam has always enjoyed performing as a comedian, and even found himself enjoying some viral success as a result.

He released 'London Underground', an expletive-ridden and highly accurate parody of The Jam’s ‘Going Underground’ in 2005.

Eventually, he decided he wanted to give it a go professionally, so left the NHS to pursue his dream.

His efforts were successful, and he was soon selling out his Edinburgh Fringe show.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

In 2017, Adam released the book This Is Going To Hurt, a darkly comedic take on his life within the NHS, based on the diaries he kept while he worked there. He published it in support of the junior doctors’ strikes of the time, with the intent to help amplify their voices.

The book became an international bestseller, even outselling Michelle Obama’s autobiography.

This later became a national tour, and now, a BBC drama with Ben Whishaw starring as a fictional version of Adam.

What’s Adam up to now?

Photo credit: Mike Marsland - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mike Marsland - Getty Images

These days, Adam continues to write and perform comedy inspired by his time working for the NHS. He is married to Game Of Thrones executive James Farrell, and together they live in Oxfordshire with their pet dog.

He is due to release his latest book, Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients, later this year.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Adam is also taking his comedy show, This Is Going To Hurt… More: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor on a UK tour.

The show kicks off in September, starting in Edinburgh before concluding at London’s Wembley Arena.

Tour dates are:

• Wednesday 7 September: Edinburgh Usher Hall
• Thursday 08 September: Newcastle Utilita Arena
• Friday 09 September: Leeds First Direct Arena
• Saturday 10 September: Birmingham Utilita Arena
• Sunday 11 September: Hull Bonus Arena
• Thursday 15 September: Liverpool M&S Bank Arena
• Friday 16 September: Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
• Saturday 17 September: Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
• Sunday 18 September: Glasgow OVO Hydro
• Wednesday 21 September: Bournemouth Intl Centre
• Thursday 22 September: Brighton Centre
• Friday 23 September: Manchester AO Arena
• Saturday 24 September: London SSE Arena Wembley

Speaking about his whirlwind year, Adam said: “It feels like the natural progression of my surreal 2022 to go from Ben Whishaw playing me on television to performing at Wembley. 2023’s really going to have up its game – perhaps I’ll be made king or move to Jupiter. I can’t wait to get This is Going to Hurt… More out on the road and subject the UK to more of my repulsive stories.”

Tickets go on sale Friday at 10am via and

This Is Going To Hurt airs Tuesday nights at 9pm on BBC One. The full box set is available on on BBC iPlayer.

Digital Spy has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.

Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features? Just hit 'Like' on our Digital Spy Facebook page and 'Follow' on our @digitalspy Instagram and Twitter accounts.

You Might Also Like