Sketch: NHS Listening Exercises

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DAVID CAMERON is standing in front of NICK CLEGG and TWO SMARTLY DRESSED WOMEN. They are seated, while Cameron stands, like a teacher addressing a class.

Cameron is holding a marker pen. Next to him, there’s a stand with a flip chart. The cover page reads NHS LISTENING EXERCISES.

CAMERON                 Ladies and gentlemen of the Cabinet and the NHS. I think we all know why we’re here…

CLEGG                        (eagerly putting hand in air) Ooh, ooh, I know, Mr Cameron! I know!

CAMERON                 Yes, Clegg?

CLEGG                        It’s to practice our listening exercises!

CAMERON                 That’s right, Clegg!

WOMAN 1                   Where’s Lansley?

CAMERON                 I’m sorry?

WOMAN 1                   Where’s Andrew Lansley? The Health Secretary?

CAMERON                 (rattled) He’s, er, off sick.

WOMAN 2                   Nothing serious, I hope.

CAMERON                 Pardon?

WOMAN 2                   I said: nothing serious.

CAMERON                 No, no. Just compassionate leave… (regaining command) Because that’s what this new government is all about – COMPASSION!

He flips over the flip chart: at the top, the word COMPASSION is written at the top of the next page.

CAMERON                 See? And because we have COMPASSION, we’ve agreed to listen to U…

He writes the letter U under the letter C of COMPASSION

CAMERON              ..the public, about the NHS…

He writes NHS so that the N is under the U (which is under the C)

CAMERON                  TOTALLY…

He writes TOTALLY under NHS so that the T is under the N…

CAMERON                   SELECTIVELY!

He writes SELECTIVELY under TOTALLY so that the S is under the T.

CAMERON                 (throwing the pen down) Because obviously we’re not going to listen to everyone! That would be madness, ha!

Clegg laughs a little too loudly/obsequiously.

CAMERON                 Now, in order to do this, we need to practice the Listening Exercises – or rather: the Selective Listening Exercises – that Clegg here announced this week. For this, I’d like you all to adopt the first position…

He flips over the page to reveal a cartoonish head drawn with its fingers in its ears. Above it is written: SELECTIVE LISTENING: FIRST POSITION

CLEGG and the TWO WOMEN put their fingers in their ears.

CAMERON                 I am now going to put forward one of the whiney arguments against our NHS reforms and you’re going to not listen…

WOMAN 1                   What?

CAMERON                 I said: I am now going to put forward…

CLEGG                        We can’t hear you!

CAMERON                 Well, if you took your fingers out of your ears while I gave you the instructions…

CLEGG                        Pardon?

WOMAN 2 (aside to WOMAN 1) I don’t know why they got rid of Andy Coulson. He was VERY good at listening to people.


CLEGG/WOMEN       Nope, still can’t hear you!/Pardon?/What?/etc

CAMERON                 (losing his temper) Look!! You’re NOT LISTENING! (A beat. And suddenly he smiles) And that’s absolutely marvellous!

They all smile.


  1. says

    Cool sketch.

    I haven’t written a topical sketch since Newsjack ended. But I did buy a newspaper at the weekend, so hopefully I might be able to write one or two this week.

    Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more.