Code Blue

The hilarious Channel 4 sitcom Green Wing just got an audio drama reunion

Code Blue
Image: Andrew Liptak

In the spring of 2006, I took a study abroad program in London. It was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot, traveled to Scotland, Germany, and Greece, explored the city, and watched a lot of British television, instilling me with a love of their weird sense of humor and timing.

One of the shows was a sitcom called Green Wing: a bizarre, surreal, and hilarious series set in a hospital that followed the lives of a team of surgeons and administrative staff. It starts with the arrival of a new doctor to the East Hampton Hospital, Caroline Todd (played Tamsin Greig), who becomes the focus of the attentions of two of the doctors on staff: the smooth and chill "Mac" Macartney (played by Julian Rhind-Tutt) and the pompous Guy Secretan (played by Stephen Mangan).

Along the way, there's a web of other characters: an anxious student named Martin Dear (Karl Theobald), the bizarre staff liaison Sue White (Michelle Gomez), desperate HR head Joanna Clore (Pippa Haywood), vain and stuttering Alan Statham (Mark Heap), Boyce (Oliver Chris), and HR staff Kim Alabaster (Sally Bretton), Naughty Rachel (Katie Lyons), and Harriet Schulenburg (Olivia Colman–of the entire cast, her career has taken off the most, and it's really funny to see her now and think of the character she played here.) They're all obnoxious and horny for one another, and their interactions leads to plenty of hijinks and hilarious moments.

I fall into watching both seasons every couple of years because it's a series that really showcases some clever writing and quick-fire delivery from its cast. You can find it streaming for free on a bunch of platforms these days, and if you haven't watched it before, it's well worth a watch.

Last week, some unexpected news popped up: the entire cast has reunited for a new series on Audible, Green Wing: Resuscitated, which you can now listen to. The series is set around 12 years after the end of the show, and runs for six episodes. It picks up with most everyone still at the hospital. Mac, who had been given a terminal diagnosis at the end of the show, was miraculously cured, married Caroline, and then dumped her. Guy is a TV personality, Joanna is in jail for murder (there was a bit of a spree at the end of season 2), Harriet is now the head of HR, Martin is still struggling with everything, and Alan is still pining for Joanna. When Caroline returns as the head of surgery, it brings everyone back for another round of hijinks.

Certainly, there's an appetite from fans for revivals and reunions: just look at the success of Paramount's Picard (or any of the Star Trek shows on the streaming service), or any of the other big franchises that have mad something of a comeback with their original casts. Mounting a proper TV revival is a costly affair that requires a solid commitment from the cast to revive those characters they might have left behind. On the other hand, audio seems to be a much cheaper and easier way to return to these stories: you don't need to build the sets, wardrobe, and bring the actors back: you just need to stick them in a recording booth. Audible's Buffy The Vampire Slayer revival Slayers from last year comes to mind as another example of this type of thing working pretty well.

One of the questions that I had going into this was "can this actually work for Green Wing?" The show relies heavily on quick, witty dialogue, often paired with a visual gag. The cast is amazing at delivering their lines (especially Julian Rhind-Tutt and Mark Heap), but they also bring a considerable physical presence to the comedy, and that's something that doesn't translate into a purely-audio setting.

Fortunately, Resuscitated has the advantage of bringing back its original cast and writers, and the resulting dialogue and acting feels as though we've never left. The six-episode show is funny and updated enough (there's a subplot around someone using cryptocurrency) that it feels like an honest continuation of the series without feeling like a revival that's been forced because of some artificial need for content.

As a fan, it was a welcome surprise: it was nice to catch up with the characters and all of their quirks once again, and hopefully, it'll open the door for more such projects, either following these characters, or for some other series that would benefit from a follow up of some sort. (One show in particular I'd love to see? A continuation of the brilliant UK detective series Life on Mars, which had a third, final "chapter" in the works, until it was axed last year.)