Green Wing

Green Wing

Green Wing came at a time when Channel 4 comedy was looking to climb back on top of the British comedy pile. Peter Kay’s boom had been and gone, Graham Linehan had taken some time off and Mitchell and Webb’s Peep Show was the channel’s one real big hitter.

What they got was something even they might not have predicted.

Even by Channel 4’s genre defining standards, Green Wing was bizarre. When characters experimenting with coffee enemas and riding motorbikes through the halls of a hospital are the some of the sanest gags, you know this is a show that likes to play fast and loose with reality.

The show focuses on Tamsin Greig’s surgical registrar Caroline, who moves to perhaps the most insane hospital of all time. There she starts working with Guy, a womanising, half Swiss anaesthetist and effortlessly charming surgeon Mac with a love triangle soon following.

While that might seem normal, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This is a hospital filled with the likes of the seemingly perfect Angela, the recorder playing Dr Statham and the demented, man eating Joanna.

All of these fade in comparison to Sue White, the world’s single worst staff liaisons officer who delights in humiliating every person apart from Mac, who she obsessively loves and tries to murder Caroline multiple times throughout the show’s run.

These characters were the meat of Green Wing, making most the comedy off of their own backs, with the mere notion of storylines largely thrown out and show delighting in doing nothing else but have their characters and their fantastic array of acting talent just go wild.

With the comedy coming thick and fast, it was an odd decision to make the show an hour long, twice the length of just about every other comedy show before or since, making the show’s brief 17 episode run a little more bearable.

The show was an instant hit with both critics and audiences, with A.A. Gill of The Times calling it “One of the freshly funny and crisply innovative comedies for years” and the show going on to win BAFTA’s first ever audience choice prize in 2005.

Unfortunately the show’s second series could quite live up to Green Wing’s opening salvo, occasionally loosing even the slight semblance of structure that the first series kept a hold of.

The show was surreal to the absolute nth degree, going so far off the rails at points in its second season that it even became slightly off-putting. If the idea of extending arms, characters singing terrible medical based alphabet songs and a completely illogical sport with rules made up on the fly sound appealing to your funny bone, Green Wing will have you very well medicated.

While a definite acquired taste (with a second series unusually not quite up to the same standard as the first) Green Wing was possibly the most unique and odd comedy show on British TV since Monty Python at the height of its powers.


The entire collection is available on DVD here.

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith