GP – The (Horror) Movie

Angus-Wrixon-client services-director-Salix-and-CoI always wanted to be a GP. Actually, having been brought up on a farm, I wanted to be a vet. But a combination of discouraging educationalists and James Herriot making it the most popular profession in the world, the animal world was spared. Educationalists, notably my science teachers – and they know who they are – may also take a bow for ensuring that I would never don a white coat and wrap a stethoscope raffishly around my neck. No, fortuitously for the population at large, I became a video producer – which I suppose gives me at least some qualification to review the RCGP’s recently released recruitment film.

GP – The Movie, now on general release at a medical school near you, has come in for some furious criticism not least in the online comments in Pulse. “Propaganda of the worst sort” is just one of the milder expletives. From a technical point of view, there are some pretty strange editing glitches at the beginning when viewers could be forgiven for wondering if there was a syncing problem. My problem with it is more fundamental. It just didn’t seem very inspiring.

Aimed at medical students who might be undecided about what to do with their medical qualification, clearly I’m not the target audience. True. But you don’t have to be in the market for car insurance to acknowledge that there are some great creative TV ads out there (Meerkats) and some stinkers (Welsh Opera bloke and the robot). Did they actually test the concept or storyboard to prospective GPs? Doesn’t look like it to me and curiously for something that is so important, it would appear they’ve skimped on the budget.

Of course it’s a difficult line to tread between portraying a realistic picture of, say, a GP undertaking an intimate examination on someone with chronic constipation and then feverishly attempting to reduce piles of paperwork and Doc Martin’s agreeable and whimsical existence as a rural GP. But then it’s up to the skill of a good script writer and the profession to work together to get something that hits the right note – and make it just a little bit attractive. There’s a reason that advertisements look glossy. Attractive women with ne’er a hair out of place vacuum unfeasibly swanky homes. Perfectly honed men swim / drive / drink beer. Why do they only use attractive people? Because advertisers tap into the aspiration and cognitive dissonance in all of us. We know at one level that what we see is not entirely real but we aspire to the notion that we’ll all look like David Gandy if we wear that pair of pants.

So, back to GP- The Movie. The cast of earnest looking real GPs went about their GP business – and boy, did it look exciting. Actually, no it didn’t. It, like their working environment, looked dreary. One of the docs tried to inject some passion about the flexibility afforded to GPs who could work in a city, on a remote island, in the country. Sounds wonderful. So show the possibilities – and if there isn’t enough money in the production budget, arguably you shouldn’t be making the thing.

Judging by the deeply depressing interview with Dr Sarah Jarvis and John Humphrys this morning in which she pretty much throws in the towel, a lot of British-trained medics are choosing to be GPs and work in cities, on islands and in the countryside – just not in Britain.

This is a truly disappointing attempt to inspire young medics to become GPs. Its caution and low-cost production values make for a really badly wasted opportunity.
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