Where is This is Going to Hurt filmed - and why did Adam Kay quit being a doctor?

a close up of Ben Whishaw from This is Going to Hurt

Fans of the medical memoir turned series are eager to know where is This is Going to Hurt filmed?

Expect blood, trauma and tears (both good and bad) during your viewing of This is Going to Hurt - the new medical drama that goes behind-the-scenes of a fictional NHS ward with junior doctor Adam Kay. The show is based on the diary entries of real life Adam - ex-doctor and author of the book of the same name - whose bleak and bonkers tales from life on the frontline has earnt a huge fan following. And he's helped turned his book into a small screen series, with a little help from acclaimed actor Ben Whishaw.

Much like Vicky McClure's new show Trigger Point and new season 4 Killing Eve, fans are already heavily invested in the show and eager for more information. Viewers are wondering if scenes were shot in a real-life hospital. Plus the reason why Adam Kay quit being a doctor. We've shared all the details we know...

Where is This is Going to Hurt filmed?

This is Going to Hurt was filmed in London, England. Production were originally hoping to film in a real-life hospital, but the pandemic no longer made it viable. So instead, a custom-built hospital set was created in a unused university building in Mile End. Complete with triage, an operating theatre and labour ward - it's here where the series' hospital scenes were shot.

According to show producer Holly Pullinger, book author and series screenwriter Adam Kay was suitably impressed with the medical set: "When Adam stepped on set, he got chills," she told The Times. "He thought he was back in hospital."

A handful of other scenes were also filmed in Camden, London. A production crew for the BBC series were spotted working on Bloomsbury Street, Camden in February 2021. With cameras additionally spotted on nearby Marchmont Street.

A photo posted by on

Production hit a few bumps in the road when it came to filming the series, according to executive producer Jane Featherstone.

When asked what it was like making the series, she joked: "A little bit like being a junior doctor, I think! We made it in the time of Covid so I think there were some similar challenges."

"It was glorious chaos. And then making it, finding the hospital and doing all those things was, in itself, a bit of a challenge during the most severe period of lockdown."

Jane added that being a book to TV adaptation also proved difficult at times. Especially due to it's diary like nature.

"It is a challenge adapting a book like that which had talking to camera, the footnotes, how [Adam deals] with some of those formal challenges in the book, which were diary entries, not narrative in a traditional sense. And how we play out the relationships and how you parcel out that arc of Adam’s relationship with Harry, and Shruti’s story.”

Filming for This is Going to Hurt officially wrapped in June 2021. A year after the announcement that actor Ben Whishaw was cast in the title role.

Who does Ben Whishaw play in This is Going to Hurt?

British BAFTA award-winning actor Ben Whishaw plays Adam, the lead role in the new BBC adaptation. His character is an overworked junior NHS doctor who is loosely based on the real-life Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt.

Ben and his co-stars received some medical training for the series to help it appear more real:

"The first thing I taught them was how to tie a surgical knot," says Nicki Roberts, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Bedford Hospital (one of the show’s medical advisers). "If you can do that slickly, then you look like you know what you’re doing. Ben was very determined."

The 41-year-old actor said that he was "proud" to be a part of the adaptation, adding that the show highlights the heroic work of NHS workers:

"It’s an honest, hilarious, heart-breaking look at the great institution and the army of unsung heroes who work there under the most stressful conditions. The Covid-19 crisis has now shed even more light on their great work and underlines the necessity to support the NHS and its workers."

Ben Whishaw in This is Going to Hurt

Ben Whishaw and Ambika Mod in a still from This is Going to Hurt (Credit: BBC/Sister - Photographer: Screen Grab)

Audiences will recognise Ben for his roles in previous BBC dramas like A Very English Scandal, Criminal Justice and The Hours. He's also famous for playing Q in the James Bond films Skyfall, Spectre and No Time to Die. And is the voice of Paddington the Bear in both films Paddington and Paddington 2.

Supporting cast:

  • Ambika Mod (newcomer and comedian) plays young junior doctor Shruti
  • Alex Jennings (The Queen, The Crown, Lady in the Van) plays Adam's boss, consultant Mr. Lockhart
  • Harriet Walter (Killing Eve, Law & Order: UK) plays Adam's mum Veronique
  • Rory Fleck Byrne (Harlots, The Foreigner) plays Adam's boyfriend Harry
  • Tom Durant-Pritchard (The Crown, Judy) plays Adam's best friend Greg
  • Michele Austin (The Bill) plays midwife Tracy
  • Kadiff Kirwan (This Way Up, Fleabag, The Stranger) plays Adam's colleague Julian
  • Ashley McGuire (This Country, It's a Sin) plays hospital consultant Miss Houghton

When is This is Going to Hurt next on?

The next episode of This is Going to Hurt airs on 16 February at 9pm on BBC One. There are 7 episodes in total, with one-a-week showing every Tuesday. Though additionally, the BBC have released the full boxset on BBC iPlayer for fans to binge on demand.

Episodes will run for approximately 45 minutes with no adverts. And the BBC dropped the official trailer for This is Going to Hurt in late January, teasing viewers with what is to come.


The official synopsis of the show reads: "At times hilarious, at times devastating, This is Going to Hurt is a series following Adam, a doctor who we find wending his way through the ranks of hospital hierarchy. Junior enough to suffer the crippling hours, but senior enough to face a constant barrage of terrifying responsibilities.

"Adam is clinging to his personal life as he is increasingly overwhelmed by stresses at work: the 97-hour weeks, the life and death decisions, and all the while knowing the hospital parking meter is earning more than him."

American audiences will be able to watch the show on AMC+ across the pond.

When was This is Going to Hurt published?

The book This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor was first published in 2017. And Adam Kay's memoir proved to be a huge success from the start. Staying at the top of the Sunday Times bestseller chart for a year and selling over 2.5 million copies.

The doctor-turned-author also picked up four gongs at the National Book Awards of the same year. This included Book of the Year, Non-Fiction Book of the Year, New Writer of the Year and Zoe Ball's Book Club Book of the Year.

This is Going to Hurt (paperback) by Adam Kay - £7.19 | Amazon
The new paperback edition of Kay's memoir includes new diary entries and an afterward by the author. It's described as "hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn't – about life on and off the hospital ward."

Following his debut success, Kay has gone on to write a further three books. The second entitled Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, a follow-up to his first - containing festive diary entries of his time on duty. Whilst Kay's Anatomy, his first children's book was published in October 2020.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Kay penned a compilation book titled Dear NHS, featuring stories from celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Stephen Fry and Dame Emma Thompson on their experience and pride for the UK's health service. A donation was made for every book sold to NHS Charities Together, raising over £250,000 in total.

Why did Adam Kay quit being a doctor?

The book's author Adam Kay worked as a doctor in the NHS for 7 years. But he quit in 2010 when a caesarean went wrong and Adam found himself both traumatised and unable to continue writing his funny diary entries.

The 41-year-old told the Belfast Telegraph that the operation went wrong as the patient had an undiagnosed placenta praevia. As a result the mother lost the baby, 12 litres of blood and had to have an emergency hysterectomy.

"I'd had many difficult days at work prior to that and my coping mechanisms were enough to deal with those," he said. "But there was a maximum I could deal with and it was that day. If that day hadn't happened, I would have continued as a doctor. But the truth is, that day would have happened at some point."

a portrait of This is Going to Hurt author Adam Kay

Credit: Getty

He admits that he should have sought out counselling after the event and cried for an hour afterwards. At the time of the caesarian, Adam was the most senior medical professional on the ward.

"I don't know whether I technically had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) but I never saw a psychiatrist," he added. "I used to wake up regularly in the middle of the night and my pulse would be racing and I'd be in a cold sweat and back in that operating theatre. That no longer happens because I'm talking about it and doing my own therapy by being open about it."

What does Adam Kay do now?

Former doctor Adam is now an author, comedy writer and screenwriter. His television credits include comedies Crims, Mrs Brown's Boys and Mitchell and Webb.

Adam has also written and executively produced the TV adaptation of This is Going to Hurt. He was also heavily involved in the show's creative process.

In an interview with the Guardian, Adam opened up on how he tried to separate himself from Adam the character:

"It was always 'him' rather than 'me' when I was talking to producers to give myself the necessary distance. And also so I didn't implode during the many discussions of how dislikable he is – I am – throughout," he said. "The truth is that he started as me in every way, and as the writing continued he became his own person, albeit one who constantly says and does things that I did in my actual life."

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.