Monday, 1 April 2019

The Masked AMHP has some unbelievable news!

I can't keep it secret any longer!  The Masked AMHP is excited and delighted to reveal that his exploits are to be made into a TV series!

E4 have commissioned a major new series based on my blog. The pitch was roughly along the lines of Call the Midwife meets Sherlock with added AMHPs.

It’s going to be called “It Shouldn’t Happen to an AMHP”, which I feel accurately conveys both the poignance and humour  of an AMHP's life. Or at least, the Masked AMHP's life.

I am thrilled to announce that the part of the Masked AMHP is to be played by David Tennant (only with an English accent), while Olivia Colman will play the Masked AMHP’s AMHP trainee, Vanessa.

It's not all been plain sailing however. I’ve been involved in extensive and gruelling discussions with script writers and the production team, and have reluctantly come to recognise that it will be necessary to alter some of the factual events described in the blog in order to make it more dramatically acceptable to a lay audience.

That is why, for example, the Masked AMHP will have a permanent AMHP trainee, who will be called Vanessa, with him on all the assessments he does, even though in real life I have had dozens of AMHP trainees, who have fairly brief placements as part of their training.

 This is so that the Masked AMHP can mansplain to the rather hapless  but willing to learn Vanessa the minutiae of the Mental Health Act, rather in the way that Sherlock Holmes is always having to explain to Dr Watson what’s going on.

The photograph accompanying this post features a scene from the upcoming TV drama featuring the Masked AMHP and Vanessa undertaking an assessment under the MHA. As you can see, the Masked AMHP is diligently taking notes while interviewing in a suitable manner. Although in real life the Masked AMHP always wears a mask when assessing people under the MHA (I find it saves time), it was felt that it would obscure the handsomely rugged  features of David Tennant.

It has also been necessary to simplify the role of the AMHP for dramatic purposes. It was considered too complicated for every MHA assessment to consist of an AMHP and two doctors (and of course the dim but lovely Vanessa, who will also provide comedic relief), so most of the time the assessments will consist only of the Masked AMHP and Vanessa.

At the end of every assessment, when the Masked AMHP has decided that the patient has to be detained, he will announce with a cheeky glance to camera: “You’re sectioned!”. It’s hoped that this will become a popular catchphrase among the young people.

Some professionals watching the series may feel that unacceptable liberties have been taken with the depiction of the AMHP role, especially when the permanently luckless Vanessa almost invariably becomes victim to some hilarious mishap or other, whether it be mistaking the patient for a psychiatrist -- with hilarious consequences (and what AMHP hasn’t done that?), being mistaken for the patient by police and ambulance crews,  or simply falling into a vat of chocolate blancmange.

Well, my reply to those po-faced professionals is that it seems to me that the only way to get a show on TV featuring AMHPs was to make it accessible and funny, and surely sacrificing a bit of verisimilitude makes it all worth it.

 Oh, and since I’m going to be making a sackful of cash and retiring to the South of France before Brexit kicks in, I couldn’t really care less what those so-called professionals think.


  1. Congratulations. Mental health assessments can be serious and tedious, and I'm not sure that just having Vanessa is enough. You/David Tennant should also be a freelance detective that uses the job as cover. Maybe set it on a town on the coast, and then you can depict the psychology of the residents. Maybe set the murder mystery around a couple dead boy, should pull them in.

  2. Belated congratulations. No doubt you have ensured that AMHPs can never be seen as anybody's fool. I have just one reservation about this, however. Surely one has to be a fool to mistake any person, "patient" or not, for a psychiatrist. The basic dilemma for the AMHP must always be about the wish to detain the psychiatrist.