Adam Kay (writer)

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Adam Kay
Adam Kay in 2017
Adam Richard Kay

(1980-06-12) 12 June 1980 (age 43)
Brighton, England
EducationDulwich College
Alma materImperial College London (MBBS)
Notable workThis Is Going to Hurt (2017)
(m. 2018) Edit this at Wikidata

Adam Richard Kay (born 12 June 1980) is a British BAFTA-winning [1] TV writer, author, comedian and former doctor. He is best known as author of the number-one bestselling book This Is Going to Hurt (2017).[2] His television writing credits include This is Going to Hurt (based on his memoir of the same name), Crims, Mrs. Brown's Boys and Mitchell and Webb.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Adam Kay was born in Brighton, England, to Stewart and Naomi Kay, and grew up in a Jewish household with three siblings.[5] His father being a doctor, Kay describes becoming a doctor as being a default decision.[6] The Kay family was from Poland, the original family name being Strykowski.[6]

Kay attended Dulwich College, leaving in 1997, and Imperial College London, where he read medicine and graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in 2004.[2] During his time at medical school, Kay began performing in medical school shows in 1998.[7] While at medical school, he founded the musical comedy group Amateur Transplants and wrote for BBC Radio 4.[8]


Kay initially trained in medicine before turning to writing.


Kay worked as a doctor between 2004 and 2010, leaving the profession after a patient's caesarean section was complicated by an undiagnosed placenta praevia;[2] the expectant mother was subsequently taken to the intensive care unit, while the baby was delivered stillborn, which left him with symptoms of PTSD. [6] Kay worked for a number of years as an obstetrics and gynaecology junior doctor, writing textbooks on the subject,[9] before leaving medicine for a career in writing.


Kay founded the Amateur Transplants. Their song "London Underground", which was set to the tune of "Going Underground" by The Jam, gained significant popularity on the internet in the UK in 2005.[10][11]


Kay's first book, This Is Going to Hurt, based on diaries from his former career as a doctor, was published by Picador in September 2017[12] and became an instant Sunday Times bestseller.[13] The paperback edition was also an instant Sunday Times number one bestseller,[14] a position it held for well over a year[15] and selling more than 2.5 million copies.[16] It was chosen as Book of the Year in the UK's 2018 National Book Awards.[17] The book was well received by critics, including in the literary pages of The Times,[18] Financial Times,[19] Guardian,[20] and The Scotsman.[21]

In addition to being named Book of the Year, This Is Going to Hurt also won at the National Book Awards in the categories of Non-Fiction Book of the Year, New Writer of the Year and Book Club Book of the Year.[22] It was also awarded Blackwell's Debut Book of the Year 2017,[23] Sunday Times Humour Book of the Year,[24] and won both Non-Fiction Book of the Year and the overall prize in the 2017 Books Are My Bag Readers' Awards.[25] It was nominated for Non-Fiction Book of the Year in the 2018 British Book Awards,[26] won Esquire Book of the Year[27] and was a selection of the Zoe Ball Book Club.[28] This Is Going to Hurt has been translated into 28 languages,[29] achieving number-one status internationally.[30] It was the UK's second-best selling book of 2018.[31] On 6 July 2018, the BBC announced that Kay would be adapting This Is Going to Hurt as a seven-part comedy-drama for BBC One. It was made by Sister Pictures and Kay is one of the co-executive producers. Part one of the series, also titled This Is Going to Hurt, was broadcast on 8 February 2022.[32]

Kay's second book, Twas the Nightshift before Christmas, was released in October 2019.[33][34]

Kay is now an established screenwriter, having written and co-created the 2015 BBC Three sitcom series Crims – along with Grandma's House writer Dan Swimer,[35] with other television work as a writer and script editor including Mrs. Brown's Boys, Mongrels, Watson & Oliver, Up the Women, Very British Problems, Flat TV, Our Ex Wife, Who Is America?, Mitchell and Webb and Child Genius.[8]

In April 2020, it was announced that Trapeze would publish a collection of personal stories about the National Health Service (NHS) edited by Kay. Entitled Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, the book includes letters from stars including Paul McCartney, Louis Theroux, and Caitlin Moran.[36][37]

Since 2020, Kay has written and released several children's books.[38][39][40]

In 2022, he published Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients.[41][42][41]


Kay has sold out shows for six years at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe[43] and has also had sell-out nationwide UK tours.[44] His 2018 tour of This Is Going to Hurt sold out a season at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), the largest venue of the Edinburgh Fringe,[45] and a week at the Garrick Theatre, before culminating in two shows at the Hammersmith Apollo.[46] He performs regularly at cultural events including the Latitude Festival,[47] and the Cheltenham Literature Festival.[48] Kay won Best Musical Variety Act at the 2014 London Cabaret Awards[49] and has been named by the Evening Standard as one of London's most influential people.[50]

He has performed songs on the topical BBC Radio 4 series The Now Show[51] and has appeared on numerous TV shows, such as The Russell Howard Hour on Sky One,[52] BBC Breakfast, Lorraine,[53] Peston on Sunday[54] and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.[55]


  • 2017: This Is Going to Hurt[6]
  • 2019: Twas the Nightshift before Christmas [33]
  • 2020: Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You[36]
  • 2020: Adam Kay and Henry Paker, Kay's Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body[38]
  • 2021: Adam Kay and Henry Paker, Kay's Marvellous Medicine: A Gross and Gruesome History of the Human Body[39]
  • 2022: Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients[41]
  • 2023: Adam Kay and Henry Paker, Kay's Brilliant Brains[56]
  • 2023: Adam Kay and Henry Paker, Amy Gets Eaten[57]

Personal life[edit]

Kay is gay,[58] and was voted in Pink News' top 50 most influential LGBT Twitter users.[59] Kay married James Farrell in 2018, and together they have two children through surrogacy which he announced in June 2023.[60][61] Kay and his family live in Oxfordshire, England.[62]


  1. ^ "2023 Television Craft Writer: Drama | BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Laverne, Lauren (2023). "Desert Island Disics with Adam Kay".
  3. ^ Adam Kay at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ Adam Kay at British Comedy Guide
  5. ^ Rudd, Matt. "The Interview: Adam Kay on Boris Johnson, the NHS and his bestselling book, This Is Going to Hurt". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d This Is Going to Hurt, ISBN 978-1-5098-5861-3 .
  7. ^ Medicine Unboxed. "Speakers at Medicine Unboxed" Archived 29 June 2013 at, 1 November 2012.
  8. ^ a b Curtis Brown Talent Agency. "Adam Kay". As of April 2017.
  9. ^ Amazon "Rapid Obstetrics and Gynaecology". 16 November 2011.
  10. ^ "'London Underground' by Amateur Transplants – lyrics". London Underground Tube Diary. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  11. ^ "London Underground Song – The Video". London Underground Tube Diary. 14 February 2005.
  12. ^ Picador. "Adam Kay's This Is Going To Hurt to be published by Picador" Archived 16 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine. 3 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Sunday Times Bestseller List". Sunday Times. 17 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Books: The Sunday Times Bestsellers chart, April 29". The Sunday Times. 29 April 2018. ISSN 0140-0460.
  15. ^ "Books: The Sunday Times Bestsellers, August 25". The Sunday Times. 25 August 2019.
  16. ^ Sunner, Amber (8 February 2022). "This Is Going To Hurt author Adam Kay's journey from NHS to TV". BristolLive. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  17. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (7 January 2019). "Kay's This is Going to Hurt named Specsavers Book of the Year | The Bookseller".
  18. ^ Rentzenbrink, Cathy (2 September 2017). "Review: This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460.
  19. ^ Liu, Rebecca (September 2017). "This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay". Financial Times. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  20. ^ Smith, P. D. (4 May 2018). "This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  21. ^ "Book review: This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay". The Scotsman. 4 October 2017.
  22. ^ Senkul, Ceren (22 November 2018). "'This Is Going To Hurt' author Adam Kay wins big at National Book Awards". Sky News. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  23. ^ Campbell, Lisa (20 November 2017). "Blackwell's reveals Book of the Year shortlist | The Bookseller".
  24. ^ Rudd, Reviews by Matt (26 November 2017). "Books of the year: Humour". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  25. ^ Kean, Danuta (21 November 2017). "Doctor's diary This is Going to Hurt wins public vote for book of the year". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  26. ^ "Pan Macmillan nominated for 7 British Book Awards 2018". Pan Macmillan. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  27. ^ Nicholson, Tom (31 August 2018). "'This Is Going To Hurt' Is Esquire's Biography Of The Year". Esquire.
  28. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (17 May 2018). "Debuts dominate 'wide-ranging' Zoe Ball Book Club line up | The Bookseller".
  29. ^ "Adam Kay: This Is Going To Hurt". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  30. ^ "This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay". This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  31. ^ Dugdale, John (29 December 2018). "The 100 bestselling books of the year: from Eleanor Oliphant to Michelle Obama". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  32. ^ "BBC One announces adaptation of bestseller This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  33. ^ a b Twas the Nightshift before Christmas ISBN 1529018587
  34. ^ Page, Benedicte (1 November 2018). "New Adam Kay for Christmas 2019". The Bookseller.
  35. ^ BBC Press Office. "BBC Three announces new comedy commissions", BBC, 20 March 2014.
  36. ^ a b Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You. Trapeze ISBN 1398701181
  37. ^ Sturges, Fiona (8 July 2020). "Dear NHS, edited by Adam Kay – celebrities say thank you". The Guardian.
  38. ^ a b Kay's Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body, Delacorte Press ISBN 0593483405
  39. ^ a b Kay's Marvellous Medicine: A Gross and Gruesome History of the Human Body Puffin, ISBN 0241508525
  40. ^ Bennett, Steve (16 March 2021). "Adam Kay signs up for more children's books : News 2021 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  41. ^ a b c Kay, Adam (13 September 2022). Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients. Orion. ISBN 978-1-3987-0038-3.
  42. ^ "British comedian raped in NZ, reveals attacker 'thanked' him after horror assault". NZ Herald. 11 September 2022. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  43. ^ Chortle Review. "Amateur Transplants: Adam Kay's Smutty Songs". 9 August 2011.
  44. ^ Bound & Gagged Comedy Promoters. "Adam Kay Biography" Archived 4 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine. As of March 2013.
  45. ^ "News: Apollo Gig For Adam Kay". Beyond The Joke. 30 September 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  46. ^ "Adam Kay adds a second Hammersmith Apollo show : Other news 2018 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  47. ^ Latitude Festival. "2012 Latitude Line-up, Adam Kay"[permanent dead link]. 13 July 2012.
  48. ^ British Comedy Guide. "Edinburgh Fringe 2012, Adam Kay's Bum Notes". 1 August 2012
  49. ^ London Cabaret Awards. "Best Musical Variety Act 2014" Archived 11 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine. 12 February 2014.
  50. ^ "The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2018 – Performance: Comedy". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  51. ^ Now Show Homepage. "Series 45". 14 February 2015.
  52. ^ "Adam Kay interview – The Russell Howard Hour (Series 1, Episode 2)". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  53. ^ Lorraine (15 November 2017). "The Junior Doctor Who Became a Comedian | Lorraine". YouTube. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  54. ^ Peston on Sunday Official (20 October 2017). "Peston Compressed – Episode 47".
  55. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – Episode Guide – All 4". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  56. ^ Kay's Brilliant Brains, Puffin, ISBN 0241624428
  57. ^ Amy Gets Eaten, Puffin, ISBN 0241585902
  58. ^ "Adam Kay Interview – Wyvern Theatre Swindon".
  59. ^ "’s top 50 Twitter users influencing LGBT life in 2011", Pink News, 31 December 2011.
  60. ^ "Walking the Dog with Emily Dean: Adam Kay – Returns!", Acast, 14 September 2021.
  61. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (17 June 2023). "Adam Kay tells of life 'transformed' by two babies". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  62. ^ Stephenso, Hannah (14 September 2022). "Oxfordshire author of bestseller This Is Going To Hurt reveals some major traumas in his new book". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 30 June 2023.