Bloods, review: paramedic comedy needs the kiss of life

Jane Horrocks and Samson Kayo in Bloods - Sky
Jane Horrocks and Samson Kayo in Bloods - Sky

Is Peter Davison typecast as a doctor? Not only did he play the Timelord’s fifth incarnation in Doctor Who but he’s wielded a stethoscope in Heartbeat, Life, Distant Shores and A Very Peculiar Practice. At least as Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, he treated animals rather than people. Now he popped up in Bloods (Sky Comedy) as a brain surgeon. Many more of these roles and he’ll qualify for a prescription pad.

The sirens-blaring sitcom returned with mismatched paramedic team Wendy (Jane Horrocks) and Maleek (Samson Kayo) on duty at a Crystal Palace football match. While Wendy shocked fans with her potty-mouthed chants, Maleek waged psychological warfare on a hostile steward. Both were preoccupied by the impending inquiry into their misdiagnosis of a heart attack victim, who was now in a coma – a potential “career-ender”.

Depot boss Jo (Lucy Punch, swapping her plummy Motherland tones for a nasal moan) drowned her sorrows after colleague Lawrence (Julian Barratt) rebuffed her advances. Another subplot saw Gary (Adrian Scarborough) and Kareshma (Aasiya Shah) exact revenge on a prejudiced patient. This prompted some sharp gags about liberal hand-wringing and white saviour syndrome. When Gary “took the knee in support”, Kareshma checked her phone and deadpanned: “Oh my God, BBC News says racism just ended.”

The ample talents of stand-up Sam Campbell, who last week won the Edinburgh Comedy Award, were wasted in a minor role. Instead Barratt nabbed the best lines. “Maybe I’ve taken Jo for granted,” he mused. “Like onions. You don’t really notice onions but take them away and what can you cook? Nothing.”

Sadly the strong cast couldn’t conceal a mediocre script. You’ll find superior gallows humour in the BBC’s factual equivalent, Ambulance. There was the odd decent quip, but generally the characters were under-drawn. Bloods felt like a string of disconnected scenes, rather than a coherent vision. Stand clear. Someone needs to shock this flatlining patient back to life.