Everyone’s favourite twin doctors are hitting the road, adapting their popular TV show ‘Operation Ouch!’ for the stage! haven sat down with Dr Chris ahead of the big Aussie tour which kicks off at QPAC in Brisbane next month.
So, take us back to the very beginning – how do you and your brother, Xand, go from being doctors to having your own, wildly successful kids’ show?
We had actually done a long ski race to the North Pole, which was being filmed by the BBC. A lot of the teams dropped out, so there were only five people left – my team got attacked by a polar bear. It’s a long, crazy story, but it through that experience we would get occasional opportunities from the BBC and it kind of started there.
When we auditioned for Operation Ouch, I actually took blood out of Xand and made a big mess in the audition room. We showed them that we could do things together that no other duos could do – we could literally torture each other, and they saw the fun in that.
What are some of the more memorable episodes you’ve filmed?
A lot of the most memorable stuff ends up happening off camera. We spend a lot of time in hospitals with children who are poorly, meeting the phenomenal patients and the medical teams looking after them. Those stories always stand out.
We also spent years going around in the ambulance and would see stories we couldn’t have seen as regular doctors. There was a lot of totally un-broadcastable stuff that we got involved in, particularly during our times in the helicopter ambulance – we saw some extraordinary stuff, the worst cases.
What’s it like getting to work so closely with your brother, Xand?
Being with my brother is so fun, and our real-life relationship is a lot like Operation Ouch!. I’m the serious one, he’s the larrikin, so spending a lot of time together doing that stuff has been really nice.
We do fight – you can’t escape the habits of your childhood. We still bicker, but we’re grateful that we get the opportunity to spend so much time together. We probably wouldn’t be able to see each other quite so often if not for the show.
You’re both still doctors – how do you balance two hectic careers?
I’m in infectious diseases and a lab scientist, while Xand is an academic – he studies conflict migration and human rights, and occasionally looks after people in a humanitarian capacity.
It’s not very easy to balance, in all honesty. I marvel at people who can do that. A lot of people seem to be able to juggle it, but I’m willing to confess that I’m not one of them. I work 50% of my time in the hospital, do a couple of days of research and take chunks of time out to do TV opportunities. Plus, I have a two-year-old so that’s an added layer of difficulty.
How do your real patients react when they realise you’re one half of the funny doctor duo on TV?
My work is quite intimate and personal – taking swabs and doing various things – so it’s funny that people will be telling you about their constipation, then ask for a selfie.
I’m now teaching the first generation of medical students who enjoyed Operation Ouch! as children, and finding that a fair few of them got into the medicine because of the show. They’re lovely, enthusiastic kids, and it’s nice to know we had that impact on them.
Why do you think Operation Ouch! is so well-loved by both children and their parents?
I think it’s two things. For one, it’s scientific content pitched to medical students at an under-grad level, and there’s way more shown than in any other medical program. Any doctor could watch any episode and learn at least one new thing. It’s got depth, but it’s also got these amazing human stories about life and death and overcoming immense problems – it’s great storytelling, and it appeals to everyone. Plus, I think Xand is very funny.
How are you adapting it for the stage? What can audiences expect in Operation Ouch! live on-stage?
A small part of our tour emphasises that doing things you’re worried about is good, and can take you to an unexpected place – the best things have happened in that way for me.
Every audience is a bit different, and it’s great getting that immediate feedback. Plus, we love meeting our viewers. We try to meet as many people as we can, because after all, they’re what makes the show fun.
I’m really looking forward to a month’s break from work to travel around Australia.
WIN // haven is giving one lucky family the chance to see Operation Ouch! live on-stage in QPAC’s Concert Hall on Friday January 3 at 6pm. Please only enter if you can make it to the aforementioned date.
This competition has now closed.