Lights! Scalpel! Action!

The history of medicine on the silver screen. 


Since its earliest days the cinema has been obsessed with playing at ‘doctors and nurses’. Sometimes it has taken its stories from fact, sometimes it has created fictions. The results have been both tragic and comic, and all too often ‘romantic’.

Madness of King George Film Poster - FilmFour

Starting at one of the world’s oldest medical institutions and cutting through perhaps its most famous clinical district, Harley Street, we go on location to find the characters from Doctors Watson and Cagliari to ‘The Elephant Man’ and stories from the ‘The Madness of King George’ to ‘The King’s Speech’ that have made physicians and the flicks inseparable for over a century.

Along the way we ask why the movies are more often interested in depicting scandal and sexual intrigue than surgery and serious medical practice…

We’ll learn too that the Royal College of Physicians’ imposing home is a regular for film crews, its edifice having stood in on celluloid for everything from the United Nations to a Victorian house of ill repute.

The Elephant Man film poster

You’ll get the chance to decipher and decode the clues and make your own mind up whether the original ‘007’ wasn’t Ian Fleming’s James Bond but Renaissance polymath John Dee, alleged secret agent to Queen Elizabeth I and inspiration for Shakespeare’s much-filmed play ‘The Tempest’

A highly entertaining and educating exploration of the silver screen’s enduring love affair with matters medical and medical personalities from a disgraced osteopath to the world’s first celebrity speech therapist, the surgeon knight who saved both a monarch and ‘The Elephant Man’ and the royal doctors who served a King who couldn’t be saved from madness. 

To arrange a private group tour at any time contact us by email at 

For public tour dates (when available) click here to visit the Our Calendar page.

The walk commences in the medicinal garden of Royal College of Physicians and lasts between 2½ and 3 hours*.

The tour costs £12.50-£15** per person.


* Tours do not include a visit to the interior of the Royal College of Physicians.

** This walk includes the option of an escorted visit to the Wallace Collection for £2.50 extra per person. Please ask about a museum visit when making your booking. Private tours are subject to a minimum group fee for parties of 14 persons or fewer.

“Lights! Scalpel! Action!” is available as a private tour at any time by prior arrangement. 

For further details or to make a group booking for a private tour please contact us at 

Click here for a map and directions to the Royal College of Physicians.