The professor of surgery.

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About this work


A profile of Professor (later Lord) Ian McColl, surgeon, at work. He provides a commentary to his work directed initially at his trainees (for instance, advising against scratching one's own nose once wearing surgical gloves), then the narration is more fluid and is mixed with the live audio. He talks about how surgery has changed over the years. McColl is accompanied on his ward round with a group of medical students who endeavour to provide an accurate diagnosis. The students and Professor McColl discuss the ethics of telling a patient the full risks of her impeding gall bladder operation. The operation takes place and the patient is seen recovering in bed. McColl trains his students on how to conduct a consultation with various scenarios and trainees taking the roles of patient and doctor. How to tackle a patient with a lump in her breast dependent on age. McColl speaks to several patients prior to surgery. A man undergoing surgery has a local anaesthetic and chats to McColl throughout surgery. He asserts that the patient is the 'customer'.



Physical description

1 DVD (50 min.) : sound, colour ; 12 cm.

Copyright note

BBC Studios.


Originally broadcast on 29th November 1982 on BBC 2.
The video was created as a courtesy copy for Professor McColl; the video has a running tape counter and the programme details burnt-in onscreen.
The recording is poor quality (the original material was film; there are scratches and camera dirt).
Professor McColl became a life peer in 1989. His career has been distinguished by teaching and he is surgeon with the charity Mercy Ships; he speaks and advocates for health and social issues (including people trafficking, sexual abuse and smoking).

Creator/production credits

Produced by Christopher Sykes. Horizon wishes to thank Guy's Hospital, Edenbridge War Memorial Hospital. Film Cameraman Rex Maidment.



Where to find it

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