Faking it for real – A Paper Mask (Collee, 1987)

April 22, 2008
 

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  Paul McGann plays Martin Harris/Dr Simon Hennessey in Paper Mask (1990, [VHS], High Fliers Video Distribution)

(Warning: contains plot spoilers!) In his novel A Paper Mask John Collee explores the issue of bogus doctors – that is, people who fraudulently gain employment as doctors and practice medicine within conventional hospital settings or as general practitioners without formal qualifications. Through the actions of his character Matthew Harris, a hospital porter who adopts the identity of Dr Simon Hennessey following the latter’s death, he offers an account of the basis of medical expertise which jarrs sharply with a conventional view of the importance of formal medical education.

Author John Collee is both a doctor and writer of TV medical scripts (see Henry III, W.A. “Going Beyond Brand Names”, Time, Monday 3rd April 1989, pg. 2), including the screenplay for the 1990 film Paper Mask. While both book and film may be considered quite ‘lightweight’ they nevertheless succinctly highlight some of the less frequently discussed bioethical issues implicit in medical practice, though also provide an interesting set of observations on the true nature of medical skill and its acquisition. Read the rest of this entry »