A Young Doctor's Notebook. Image shows from L to R: Older Doctor (Jon Hamm), Young Doctor (Daniel Radcliffe). Copyright: Big Talk Productions
A Young Doctor's Notebook

A Young Doctor's Notebook

  • TV comedy drama
  • Sky Arts
  • 2012 - 2013
  • 8 episodes (2 series)

Black comic drama series about a doctor at different ages, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, based on the work of Mikhail Bulgakov. Also features Rosie Cavaliero, Adam Godley and Vicki Pepperdine.

Press clippings

Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm for Strictly? Tonight's visit to the Russian surgery where it always snows features the star duo showing off some fancy footwork in a waltz. It's just one diverting moment in a witty yet bleak delight that also features Radcliffe sporting a clown's costume, breaking into song and caught on the hop by a dark emotional twist. And rarely has the line 'we were looking for wood' dripped quite so heavily with double entendre. A comic treat.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 5th December 2013

Jon Hamm plucking a balalaika, Daniel Radcliffe drug-addled and lovestruck, sly jokes about accidental discharge... it was reassuring to find A Young Doctor's Notebook (Sky Arts 1) hitting its scurrilous stride once more. Actors looking like they're having a ball playing their parts can come off as plain self-indulgent but here that joy shines off the screen.

Though it's set in post-Revolutionary Russia, A Young Doctor's Notebook feels strangely contemporary, with Radcliffe and Hamm note perfect as the younger and older versions of Bulgakov's country physician. Witty wordplay slices and dices through the crude surgery but beneath it all lurks a gimlet-eyed study of the human condition.

Pulling back from the brink of self destruction, Radcliffe's naive young medic found that a nasty dose of unrequited love was the wake-up call he needed. 'There's more to us than morphine,' was the moral of the story as he took baby steps towards depending on himself.

Keith Watson, Metro, 29th November 2013

D-Radz continues to bring Mikhail Bulgakov to the small screen with mixed results. While there's no doubting his commitment to the part of the rural, morphine-addicted titular doc, the overall effect is rather less than the sum of the parts. High production values, a sprightly cast and a real love for the source material are all very well, but Bulgakov dealt in politics, irony, fantasy and subversion, which are largely absent.

Instead, a rather madcap, Gogol-esque humour prevails, which might make it more accessible for an audience of Mighty Boosh-loving culturati, but gets a bit grating at this length. Still, nice to see a bit of proper lit on the telly.

Chris Waywell, Time Out, 28th November 2013

The first series of Sky's A Young Doctor's Notebook - a stagey comedy drama set in a rural Russian hospital in 1917 and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Mad Men's Jon Hamm - plunged from cheerful if gory slapstick (cue wheezy accordions and balalaikas) to the sort of black despair familiar from even the sunniest Russian literature of the era (the plays are adapted from the stories by Mikhail Bulgakov). One moment Radcliffe (straight out of medical school) was happily yanking a tooth or sawing a peasant's leg off, the next he was a morphine addict peeing the bed, accompanied by an increasingly raddled-looking Hamm - Radcliffe's future self as a grownup medic flitting between reading his old diaries in the Stalinist 1930s and returning to his former haunts with a dazed expression and a needle in his arm. It's not Call the Midwife.

Amazingly, Hamm was off the drugs in this opening to series two (thanks to a bracing spell in a municipal straitjacket), though Radcliffe wasn't, and was soon watering down the morphine for the benefit of a suspicious government inspector arriving imminently to do a stock count. Luckily the man arrived with three bullets in him, courtesy of the revolution raging outside, and if he ended up dying as a result... well, would it be the end of the world? For him it was of course. And so agonising. What was wrong with that morphine!

Sometimes, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, you end up doing neither. Even so, there is something compelling about this barmy pursuit of redemption - the figure of experience revisiting his innocent descent into hell, blaming his younger self for succumbing to temptation but also offering forgiveness.

Phil Hogan, The Guardian, 23rd November 2013

Second series of the jaunty historical drama based on Bulgakov's books, starring John Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe as old and young versions of the titular doc. The elder is out of the asylum following treatment and grasps life anew, while his younger self settles into a sexless relationship with Pelageya, a relationship that revolves around her stealing opium for him. Meanwhile, the Russian civil war rages and the injured begin to pile up in the surgery corridor. A lot more fun than that sounds.

Julia Raeside, The Guardian, 21st November 2013

Almost a year since they first teamed up for Playhouse Presents, Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm return for another four-part romp as junior and senior versions of Mikhail Bulgakov's incident-prone doctor in rural Russia. This time out, though, the morphine-addled roles have been reversed. As the bleakly comic drama picks up in 1935, Hamm is almost Don Draper-esque - all cleaned up after kicking the habit - while Radcliffe is rapidly flushing his career down the toilet, tapping the surgery's supplies to keep himself comfortably numb.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 21st November 2013

Even in the frozen backwaters of early twentieth-century Russia, a doctor can't keep on caning the morphine indefinitely. As this second series begins, Daniel Radcliffe's junior medic hasn't realised that yet. His older alter-ego (Jon Hamm), knows it only too well, however.

Tonight, with the Civil War raging, there's a sudden run on painkillers - but how's a doctor to keep the monkey off his back while facing such heavy demand? A Young Doctor's Notebook remains watchable rather than essential - the comedy still isn't quite uproarious enough to justify the slim characterisation. But the tone's spot on - bad-taste fun with just the right degree of looming tragedy - and the performances are relishable.

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 21st November 2013

Daniel Radcliffe: I'm the happiest I've ever been

"There was a time when I thought that the closer the public perception of me was to the real me the happier I would be."

Stephen Armstrong, Radio Times, 21st November 2013

A Young Doctor's Notebook review

Michael Hogan says A Young Doctor's Notebook relies too much on its star credentials.

Michael Hogan, The Telegraph, 21st November 2013

So strong was the appeal of seeing Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm - Harry Potter and Don Draper - together that Sky Arts just had to bring back the Playhouse Presents special for another outing.

It's 1918 Russia, and the raging civil war is pumping a constant supply of casualties through the halls of the young doctor's (Radcliffe) hospital. As the pressure mounts, he resorts to stealing morphine in a bid to get respite from his gruelling life and his infuriating older self.

Dark, but also delightful, A Young Doctor's Notebook is a unique telly treat that shines even brighter with its added star power. There's just four episodes, so don't miss them!

Daniel Sperling, Digital Spy, 17th November 2013

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