How comedian Harry Hill swapped from being a Doncaster doctor to TV star

He's known for his madcap television shows '“ but did you know comedy favourite Harry Hill was once a doctor at Doncaster Royal Infirmary?

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st August 2018, 1:10 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 1:16 pm
Comedian Harry Hill was once a doctor at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Comedian Harry Hill was once a doctor at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

He's been making the nation laugh for several decades now but before finding fame on the comedy circuit, the bald funnyman with the outsized shirt collars was a junior houseman at DRI.

His first post after medical training was at the hospital in Armthorpe Road back in the early 1990s '“ and back then he practised under the name Dr Matthew Hall.

Born in Surrey, he studied at St George's Hospital Medical School before training in neurosurgery at the University of London.

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And it was after this that the TV Burp funnyman ended up on the wards at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. But it was to be a short-lived career in medicine. 

Of his time at DRI, Harry told The Times Magazine: "I delivered babies, I tried to resuscitate people who died, I met lunatics, but I never really felt like I knew what I was doing.

'I was just this bloke in a white coat looking worried. If you're a doctor, you're supposed to want really interesting cases. I spent the whole time hoping that no one was going to get ill." In the Guardian later he also said in an interview: "When I was a junior houseman at Doncaster Royal Infirmary I'd go to the canteen and load up a tray, get to the till, pay, sit down, then be called to a cardiac arrest. When I'd get back it'd be cold, so I'd get crisps or a sandwich." Around 1990, he began toying with the idea of becoming a full-time stand-up comedian.

None of his superiors at Doncaster Royal Infirmary discouraged him from doing so, and eventually he quit the medical profession and he has been quoted as saying it was because he "didn't feel in control of what was happening".

However, he is still registered on the General Medical Council's list of Registered Medical Practitioners and it seems those medical skills haven't deserted him.

Several years ago, the former doctor revealed how his medical training was pressed into emergency action when another passenger started struggling to breathe on a flight.

The comic was returning from a conference in Amsterdam when the crew made the appeal: 'Is there a doctor on board?'

He was reluctant to volunteer, admitting to BBC Breakfast: 'I thought, "Oh, you know, I haven't done it for so long.'

However, with nobody else coming forward, the crew, who clearly knew of his medical background, asked him to examine the distressed man.

'So as I've walked back through the plane, everyone's going, "Go on Harry! Yeah! Nice one, sort him out!", all this.' 

Fortunately, it wasn't too serious. 'I got there and basically it's someone who's hyperventilating' he recalled. 'So I just put a calming, reassuring hand on his shoulder.

'Then as I walked back everyone applauded, it was fantastic! And the air steward bought me a tiny bottle of champagne as a reward.'

He said that if a similar situation arose today, he'd excuse himself.

'To be honest, I haven't done it for so long I think it would be dangerous' he said. 'I think if something happened now, I'd have to say "look guys, sorry."'