Saturday, February 25, 2017

Doctor Under the Influence

When you are off work, ill or not, as I've been, you tend to end up watching some kind of daytime TV.  A lot of which consists of repeats of stuff from my childhood, all of ot providing a reminder of how fashions, technology and lifestyles have changed over the intervening decades.  They also remind us of how social attitudes have changed.  An episode of Doctor at Large, from around 1971, gave me a real jolt as to its representation of drink driving.  The episode's climax centered around Dr Collier (George Layton) having been arrested for drink driving and, to try and avoid being reported to the GMC and struck off, giving his name as 'Mr Upton', before arranging for his friend Dr Upton (Barry Evans) to attend the police station, (as 'Dr Collier'), to administer a blood test.   Collier tries to persuade Upton to risk being struck off himself, by faking some other kind of test to prove his sobriety.  When it becomes obvious that only a blood test will be accepted by the police, Upton takes a sample of his own blood to submit for testing.

In what seems fairly disturbing to contemporary eyes, all of this is presented as hilarious farce.  At no point is the fact that, even in 1971, drinking and driving was a criminal offence.  Indeed, the fact that Collier was so drunk that he crashed his vehicle into the back of another car, is seen as a source of amusement.  But then this was the era in which a popular song included the lyrics 'Take a drink, take a drive'.  Moreover, film and TV characters were frequently seen getting into cars after sinking a few drinks and driving off (without seat belts, usually).  Equally startling is the idea that it is OK for a pair of doctors' to behave in this way, falsifying medical tests in order to pervert the course of justice!  Not only OK, but hilarious, to boot!  More evidence, if any were needed, that the past truly is another country.  One where they do things differently...  



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