« Desert Island Discs

Adam Kay, writer

2023-07-16 | 🔗
Adam Kay is a writer whose memoir This is Going to Hurt; Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor won the Book of the Year prize at the National Book Awards and has sold over three million copies. It was adapted for television as a BBC series that won four BAFTAs this year, including Adam’s award for best drama writer. Adam was born in Brighton in 1980 and studied medicine at Imperial College London. In 2004 he started working as a junior doctor, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology. In 2010 he left medicine following a catastrophic incident in surgery. He had kept a diary throughout his medical career, partly to help cope with the long shifts and stressful environment that came with life as a hospital doctor. In 2016 Adam read from his diaries for a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the positive reception he received from audiences encouraged him to use them as the basis for a memoir. The book became a publishing sensation, and Adam has published further books and enjoyed considerable success with his live performances. Adam lives in Oxfordshire with his husband James. DISC ONE: Chopsticks - Liberace DISC TWO: Mis-shapes - Pulp DISC THREE: Chopin: Waltz No. 14 in E Minor, Op. posth. (no intro) Composed by Frédéric Chopin and performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy DISC FOUR: Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat - Stubby Kaye, Original Cast Chorus (from Guys and Dolls) DISC FIVE: Forgot About Dre - Dr Dre & Eminem DISC SIX: Poisoning Pigeons - Tom Lehrer DISC SEVEN: A Lady of a Certain Age - The Divine Comedy DISC EIGHT: San Diego Serenade - Tom Waits BOOK CHOICE: York Notes for the Complete Works of Shakespeare LUXURY ITEM: A diary and pen CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: San Diego Serenade - Tom Waits Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Paula McGinley
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music radio put hell Well, I'm Lauren Laverne, and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guests to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they'd want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island and for rights reasons. The music is shorter than the original broadcast out. You enjoy listening. I. the. My castaway this week is the writer Adam K in twenty seventeen his memoirs. This is going to hurt secret diary of a junior doktor became literary sensation. It was sunday times number one best seller for over a year when the book,
prize at the national book awards and sold over three million copies the store, leave his life on the woods was pale areas horrifying and heart breaking off. space of a single page. It was adapt. The television as a bbc series that one for baptist earlier this year, including his award for best drama writer, which he dedicated to junior doctors. He was born in brighton, where his father was a jp who encouraged him to study medicine after several years of hospital? Doktor everything changed when a catastrophic incident in surgery led to him, giving his vocation to help. Make sense of what had happened. He turned to the d We had been keeping since he became a medic. He says it was going up to my house little on call room and writing down the silly things. The disgusting things, the funny things I didn't really know. This was why I was doing it, but in retrospect it's totally clear. I was, for the shots of light among the dark, Adam k. Welcome,
discs driving me so tell me by The the adrenaline bush of performing lie because you have too many sold out chosen and tourism in alive appearance going on in one kind of theatre. Is there a comparison to the kind of adrenalin rush that you would get scrubbing up to go into surgical theatre. Obviously, lives are at stake. You can that's the thing being a doctor. Silly ruins your barometer for what you get excited or scared or anything about. I never get scared going on stage because, what's the worst that can happen, everyone asks for a refund or they throw things at me constantly for an hour. Ultimately, none of that matters. That's like peoples at work and I'm not gonna die but they're not, but in my own job they woods, and it would be my fault if they do
You are also turn your music with us today, of course, and music has a quite important place in your life. I think you're, talented musician yourself. You play the piano saxophone, tremble and harpsichord, presumably not all at once. What does basic bring your life The uses up a hundred percent of my processing power. So I'm not good enough that I can just play it and at the same time be what we need to get from saying sprays, as I'm murdering show patent, then I can't think of I can't think of anything else, I think we better get stuck into a desert island discs at him. Tell us about your first. This is chopsticks by liberace. I was forced to play the piano if you want to be a doctor. Have to have all these things, none of which seem to relate state whether you re a good doctor. One of them is ITALY's extra curricular interests.
So this is your parents forcing you to learn piano so that it will look good when you are applying to go to medical school? Yes, that's why you are so good tick. He played the cannot check is just part of the the checklist spot of the checklist I'm so I learned the piano and I loved the piano and I discovered liberace. In retrospect I associated with him more than I realized at the time, but I love the idea that you could be so to virtue outside and it wasn't just serious stuff No, the
The the the Chopsticks before
by liberace, so Adam Kay. Let's go back to your growing up, then your father, Stuart, was a gp and I think it was a given. Wasn't it that you'd end up in the family business. I think so. Parents want the best for their kids and for him who adored his job and was good at his job and didn't have a bad word to say about his job. That was the best that could happen, for me was to be a doctor and for these workers who do you want for what a fool and all degrees were medicine, medicine law, medicine right at all, so do immigrants, family. even though a couple of generations down that mentality of the inverted commas acceptable, Rare? You know, you're a doctor, a lawyer and architects, so unless I came up with an objective plan b, that was my default settings
Did you ever start to think about upon bay? Did you have a float other possibilities for yourself yeah? It occurred to me that I might rollover do they stop that? I was only going to get into medical school, then de medicine itself, and I floated this one point to my mom and I said That's a maybe I wanted to do music instead and being penalised, and she said with no knowledge slots, and it wasn't loaded. It was just just been practical and she said and bay water, music teacher, and I felt yes but what she was saying was, I might be the best of it. in my year school, but I'm definitely never going to be in Conny hole. giving liberace around run for his money again wanting best for your children is the best they can theoretically achieve the pictures that I've seen. If you you look quite pensive,
yeah yeah. You don't look like a happy kit. Often I a lot going on. I was happy in lots and lots of why but at the same time I was made, living in the rum house out. Have some music at him. Tell me about your next choice. So this is miss shapes by pulp. Jarvis is lyrics, he's the poet laureate about site is even though in law of ways wasn't who he was talking about. I was the in common people rather than the boy and lots of ice botz. A really really spoke it was the sound of my gcse he's is only autograph I've got from celebrity at university. I was in that the tight mountain and I bumped into him I was like. Can you sign my oyster card stage?
thanks, we town that we can risk the pope amiss shapes. In case you ve written over the years about coming to terms with your sexuality. When did you first think you might be gay. It hadn't occurred to me, but it is good to someone There was a guy when as in the third year. So, as was then called when I was thirteen,
who ran a lending library of printed pornography. No one had the internet, but his dad's computer had the internet and he printed off these maki stories, and he said ten uk right and I sort of like blasted and didn't quite sandwich It was no judgment. He just wanted to make sure that I was going to be a good repeat, customer and I'd be given the that that the niche of printed material that that I wanted and said that it hadn't occurred to you until he said it. It didn't mean I was where that when other people were saying about how this person was hot or whatever, where they could. I see it, maybe it's just something like with that you have to learn to like over time. I didn't know that was it a bit of a light bulb moment. There was a lot it wasn t, so you ve got you just said it it will like it was a light, but I dont know exactly what I said, but I ended up with
a story about said australian tracker so over what has got it, but he didn't can he was running a business? Did you come Two parents a couple of times that one time someone came out on my behalf by accident, I did these medical school reviews and once a year there was this competition and I was forming a skits at the blooms briefly in london, it was packed out, and I'd mentioned my parents. I didn't know that they were coming and I was introduced onstage by my friend, then I now might wozniak in a loving way as everyone's favorites gay, Joe Adam K. He didn't know my parents are there, he didn't know. I wasn't out to my parents at the time but they found out that point, but then I was in a relationship with a woman
and so I don't know they were meant to think. Did they told you about it, not particularly we're not a very talkie family. Let's make some time for the music. You said choice today. What have you done for I've gone for, show pans, boats in a minor formed by vladimir ashkenazy. I realise the piano over lockdown and this was a piece I played for my music scholarship to school, which was when I was like twelve thirteen, and I found the same book that I had of my chopin It says- and I turned to it and I couldn't play it and it's so depressing to be worse at something now the when you're a teenager. I still can't play it as well as I I used to but
an amazing piece of music, The the The the the
the. chopin waltz number, fourteen in a minor performed by vladimir ashcombe, noisy Adam k in ninety ninety eight. You started studying medicine at imperial college in london. How did you take to student life? I didn't have lots of knights, and so I sat on my own it's a lot of sitting on my own, and I lied to my parents about how much fun I was having, because everything had led up to this moment, and I would be a disappointment if I wasn't having a great time, but certainly
initially. I wasn't in things changed now some of my very closest friends people I trained with a medical school. So did you start to find your feet will happened? Someone scooped me up. A man called, might schecter the lecture, I think and clinical pharmacology, and he pulled
down next to me, when I was sitting on my own having it limp sandwich of some description and asked me if I was right and then talk to me about the fact that sam the medical school put on some shoves four nights of our production of a musical and then on the final night they put on medical school review. It meant that I met some like minded people and some other people who were a bit subversive all looked at life in a way that I thought only I did but turns out. Other people in these thousand plus people in medical school thought
and I belonged and make it helped. You find that, did you keep in touch with him, fifty graduated, all it off and then increasingly off, he walked up at a big show. I I performed at I go on tour and do book signings, so this was just business, just pre covert. What did you say to him? Did you talk? We talked until someone down further down the book sign in cases of affairs, a cue hair so and then the talk was stopped and then I promised I keep in touch and then we did now, but I'm a very bad correspondence and I live Can the media we say less to launch the whole time and again that doesn't mean the the lunch other ever happens again.
Besides that that was the last time I saw him because I'd I found out that mike had died on his seventieth birthday. If you look at that the strange graph of my career trajectory, he was probably the most one of the most important corners of that graph and would seem that for the person the only person who was looking out for ne- and I know from after his death, he was doing the same for dozens hundreds of other people who talk about him, scooping them up. No one was looking after him and ah I know what I didn't say to him at that time, which was thank you because I don't think at that point. I perhaps processed the
and though he played in my life? I think that I have some music has in this place was distant before sit down your rocking the boats. Guys, and those was one of the musical was that I was musical director of as a medical student, sit down your rocking the boats, kids. In a way they medicines, slogan, you're, not to put your head up too high of his once told that the way to succeed in medicine is to be quiet and mediocre. Sit down you talking about I dream. Last night I got on them go to Heaven and by some chance I had run my life so long. I stood, and I made me, but the passengers they knew His father
well said sir now sit down your rug and about iraq and the level of rights. I wonder why the checkered outfit sit down, you're rocking the boat from the musical guys and dolls, composed by frank, loesser and performed by stubby kaye and the original broadway cast adam cape. You said, your medical school it developed and eating disorder. I think it started after spent the night with someone what was the trigger exactly the next morning. He told me that I wasn't bad for a big, let it never occurred to me. The time is a big lad was just me and- and I basically didn't take him any color it for the best part of a year. Basically shoeing food and spitting out that involved an awful lot of law,
why I wouldn't be going out for dinner cause. That's obviously something I can only do in my my bedroom spitting food into a into a big black baton. After a year, I got rumbled because someone did come into my Rome then found this liters and liters and liters of chewed up crisps and preference and made me promise that I would get help. Did you know, because I thought that if I got help I mean I've had help since, but at the time I didn't. I thought that if I spoke to someone about it
then, by the time the door closed behind me afterwards, someone would have told the head of the medical school, the secular state, for how the chief executive of the hospital who I would never work and I think, a lot of doctors not able to talk to them. But a lot of doctors don't get help because they're afraid. That's it will somehow and their careers in your twenties. You also married a woman. You call h, but we're hopes for your future life together. I think I got married for the right reasons. I wanted it to last forever and am for potentially more reasons than many people I. It doesn't work it. It didn't work, it qualifies as a junior, by. Then why did you decide to specialise in obstetrics and gynecology labour? what is magical the privilege of playing that, though
in a mums, life and family life never goes away. You know why experienced a pregnancy loss during that time, an awful tragedy to go through for both of you, but your grief must have been compounded. By working on a label. Would how did you keep going? Don't think I asked for help. I just wondered if I may, step away from being around pregnant people for so much No. I also worked on in ghana, ecology, fetters and infertility, clinics, and things like that, and the answer I got I think was worse than being told. No, so I said sooner, you think we could reconfigure that the role of it and this boss said really
is like just compounded my fears that I shouldn't be thinking in those terms and not oh. No! No! No, not me not not. For me, I mean nothing I'll, be fine and then and then stiff upper lip stiff, drink coffee much, and that was it that was it Adam. It's time to go. The music. Your next choice will be your fifth. What are you taking with you to the island next alight, Eminem and doktor dre singing forgot about dre. She can't why, coming back from these shifts, they might have been told I was on the road to, but they were very rarely taller. Was on the on the clock and pigs or sitting you wouldn t necessarily had time to sit down for the inner to go to the bath. We'll let alone sit down from a bite it's in your example- sitting a covered in blood and this- one of the sums on the keeping me awake playlist, but the wind down put this not loud
I'm seeing, along with every single word, to stay awake long enough to still be alive. When I got back home listen closely all you have to say that, although the razor detroit hey bring in order to feel like me, go round will certainly bracted. Nowadays, everybody wanted silently to gas in the congo, outlining the nasty repetitive abrasive about now gangs. Everybody wanted somebody gas and enabling the comte de la fere stability, democracy about what do you say I found. What are you forgot about I eminem and doktor drain Adam K bite detain, you become a senior registrar and you called in to carry out an emergency says area in this turned out to be a huge turning point for you. What happened? I was the most senior doktor working on the board.
It was made and someone who is more junior to me and she saw the operation. I was assisting and there was a m. I condition could percent of previous during the present is too low It should have been picked up on scans and asked for whatever reason haven't space. And I took over the opera chicken and and deliver the bay And the baby was clearly dead and then the uterus wouldn't stop bleeding, and am I do my best and could in my consultant she called in another insulting it's who made the decision to performer hysterectomy, twelve liters of blood or something had been lost points
only ever want is a healthy mum and a healthy baby, and this patient went off to sense of care- and I ended up with me-. And my friends you'd know what its wits remind me: Does it make me feel better? They remind me, I haven't done anything wrong and Anyone in that situation would have done the same thing and have the same outcome couldn't known in this matter, they would tell me that every five or six years, if you are the most senior obstetrician on the ward, he will have some kind of big disaster. It's not about how good you are, how much training you got it just the horrible nature of the beast. it made me feel worse, not better, because it made me realize that I couldn't face. That kind of thing ever happening to me ever again, let alone twice a decade, and so I stepped away from medicine
We weren't negligent. There was nothing you you could have done differently, but was your state mind during that time. I was profoundly affected by that moment to the extent that I would wake up in the middle of the night that cannot operating theatre and I'd, be in a cold sweat with my heart count. How many hundred beats medicines it stops happening, when I am started talking about it and then incrementally the nightmare stopped. It's time. For you, sixth piece of music item k. What we're going to hear next and why you take it to the island with you poisoning pigeons in the park by Tom Lehrer. I it's been working for about five years. Is on a modern re, imagining of Tom Lehrer song book as it happened. I took this to edinburgh and I think almost single person can that I was over. Seventy is so
Look a lot of money because it concessions, but my my producer had found to venues, I'm said If she does this, have you got a second show in you, the costs, and he might lose slightly less money and then, with these two great rooms are great times and and around the time of the the previous junior doctor strike talking to James, my then boyfriend. Now husband is like. Why don't you talk about medicine? and so for two reasons, one because he is the greatest. Comedy some rights of all time and secondly, because I owe him huge a huge vote of thanks for his role in the success I've had
Homeland seems into an honest spring afternoon when we're poisoning pigeons in the park every sunday. You will see my sweetheart and me as we pause on the pigeons in the park when the birdies all try and hide but they still go for peanuts when called and where the sun and shining brightly everything seems all right and one right. The poisoning pay since in the park Tom leora Adam K, when you first working on the book? Did you when he qualms about revealing too much and about relating to much about what was happening behind the scenes in the hospital. There are a couple of things: the legal side of things. Obviously, you can't identify patient the legal raised on the first after the but was about the same length as the actual book seconds.
Things was the worry about. Will this put people off medicine? I've had enough, came out various angry messages from parents grandparents, aunts and uncles. Saying my sunday, and his nephew branch out use to want to be a doctor. And then they read your book now they don't what you've got to say about that and the answer, I'm afraid, is good, because if that book is going to put you off medicine, then medicine is really gonna. Put you off medicine. Can I ask about at one further question to that I mean what about putting people off medics because they have people. Out of me, you criticised for not having enough sympathy for your patience and went out
respond to that. I think I was at a caring doctor. I think a lot of that comes from the facts. That's what the diaries I presented all of a funny ate it, which is often when the funny. Weird strange thing happens because that's where the interesting story is am, I hope I haven't put people off seeing their doctors. I hope I've made people think differently about their doctors. Stuff that those people are going through Adam it's time for you next disk. What are we going to hear a lady certain age by the wonderful divine comedy thing with neil husbands. Writing
So much of it is is poetry and the other thing about this sum which similar to Tom Leora, I guess, and some to job is coca a lot of this right. Thing is trashy comic, which is, I guess, what I right myself, I'm digress. A lot of what life actually is in the months and years on that day, kings die and the new york fed the perfume by chanel and close by J Oshie. The nose of the divine.
Mickey and a lady of a certain age, Adam K in twenty eighteen. You married your husband James, tell me about your family life. Today we have a Very boring life, or we did until six months ago now- and this isn't something that I've spoken about before there is no come whatsoever because we ve got two very young babies, ruby whose six months I'm zackie, whose two months I dont need to explain the way vets, think kids changes your life, but it's absolutely transfer for the better and also ruined spoken like a tree, Congratulations! I like it for you so that just a few months apart, a few months parts born
sorry to see in the states rubies pregnancy, with it difficult pregnancy, and we were going to be out in the states a month before the g rights, and then why are the theatre watching Tommy Faye, the first offer, which was scraped, and I can't comments about the second half, because we have a phone call which sets a mamma Later hospital, I think, get hair james got there on the only see the only possible flight. And I made it in time for Ruby's birth, and I I Didn'T- and I think you know so so many of my thoughts are about how to be a good father and how to get it right and how to be there, and I started off very, very, very badly by missing it, and I so I was obviously on a flight shortly afterwards. I I
gunfire a toy shop just so I had it tidy to say and I'm sorry his his his his teddy ups observer, missed the first specimens of st chicago and pepper bob's holding it together, and I put my earphones on to take me out of it and I put Tom waits on on shuffle and I burst into tears at the first track that played- and I didn't stop crying until the plane landed in washington, d c and there was so much in going on pay my heads and All of this life medicine in life of obstetrics, leading up to this moment that I missed and then I I met her and you know- and I fell in love with her, obviously as as reprogram to do, and am she had a tricky start and she's she's doing well he's doing
as as as as is her brother who we were there. So we were not gonna. Let that happen again. That was not a chance. We were gonna miss that and what he hopes. I wonder for these two people who come into your life, I'm off to mess it up. Botz I think If I can somehow not projects onto them, if I can, let them describe their own routes through life and, if their as happy as they can be and his health is they convey. Then hopefully they will forgive me over the other mistakes I make on the way m k? Would you mind introducing your final piece of music? I think we ve heard about it. So I think this is a very easy one to introduce. This is tom, whites and sandy seven, eight, the first track that's plates on shuffle when I asked
tom whites to call me down on the flight and he he body? Let me down with this one. It set a beautiful, beautiful some I'm to gain. It's a piece of poetry, never saw them saw I never melody sandy go so need by tom waits. So kay, I'm about to send you to the island. What are your expectation things about life that how do you think you'll get on? I've got a too if our child, I'm gonna, get some sleep, look for the best sir
I'm giving you the bible, the complete works, if shakespeare and one of the book what willoughby we're going to take the york notes for the complete works of shakespeare, because this makes me very uncultured parts. I never quite know. What's going on in shakespeare, anytime, I've gone to her new on I'm having to look at the synopsis of Wikipedia has to say I through cycle dare say, he's very good at his job. In knows what he's doing this is a. This is a a great book for me to have, but I'd love to know. What's going on cutting you can have it What about a luxury items? Can I take a diary, please I write in my diary. Day and first we relatives aside. I think that will be the thing that I missed the most. If I didn't have I love the equal infested, relatives it so medical just inside the gas. Of course he came. The diary is yours and Which one track of the eight would you rushed to save if you had just because of?
how it found its way into my life. It has to be Tom weights in san diego cementite, Adam Kate. You very much for letting us here, your desert, island discs. Thank you. I hello, hope you enjoyed my conversation without him. I'm sure we'll get some sleep on the island at last week. Stewing many medics, including David, not henry marsh, he'd irian and dame Sally Davis pull. soon Jarvis coca is in our back catalogue too. You can find these episodes in our desert island discs programme archive untrue, bbc sands, the studio manager for two days programme with Sarah Hockley. The assistant producer was Christine Pavlovsk iii, and the producer was poland, beginning next time MIKE It will be the writer, Kate moss. I do hope, you'll join us.
the along with David nineteen ten, the rise of the conspiracy theory movement in the uk, the system's rotten at the cool it should be deleted. I Marianna sprang in my new series I'll be exposing how radical some people in the movement have become and how alternative media is fuelling them. So many crazy stories have been spread so far and wide. It is hard to see the same marianna in conspiracy, land bbc, radio, four, available now on BBC sounds
Transcript generated on 2023-07-29.