Adam Kay: Navigating Fatherhood, Mental Health and New Theatre Show Amid Sleep Deprivation


Exhausted but undeterred, Adam Kay, the accomplished author of “This Is Going to Hurt” and formerly practising doctor, is neck-deep in the unceremonious realities of life – parenting two babies and juggling professional commitments. Fatherhood, it appears, has thrown him into a different intensity of sleepless nights, ironically akin to the nocturnal routines of his early medical career.

Adam, along with his life partner, James Farrell, a Game of Thrones producer, share the joy and responsibilities of parenting Ruby who is ten months old, and Ziggy, aged six months, who were birthed by surrogates. The nightly feeds, diaper changes and in-between breaks are equally shared, reflecting parenthood’s steep learning curve that they’ve immersed themselves into.

While his undisputed skills as a junior doctor in an obstetrics ward had equipped him for midnight awakenings, the experience of being a father left him grappling with unprepared trials. Constantly battling sleep deprivation, boiling kettles and bright night-lights, Adam seems to have discovered that parenthood, in reality, is quite distanced from the idealistic images flooding Instagram.

Adam, known for dressing harsh truths with humour, admits he would amply like to change about parenting. Despite its upheavals and disruptions, he is unequivocal in professing its enormous gratification. However, he wishes he was better prepared for its stark realities – certainly, a sentiment his readers and fans appreciate in his candid narration.

One might remember, Kay garnered considerable applause for his stand-up comedy and storytelling, a trait that has powered his writings as well. His latest live show, ‘Undoctored,’ originates from a triumphant on-paper narrative that embodies his life beyond the realm of the National Health Service. Following its predecessor, ‘This Is Going to Hurt,’ ‘Undoctored’ is written around his experiences as a junior doctor on a labour ward. Its successful dramatization on BBC One helped actor Ben Whishaw bag a best actor Bafta award.

The 2021 Edinburgh Fringe witnessed Adam Kay return to performing a full season after a hiatus since 2016. The festival that acted as a springboard to his career, witnessed the sale of over 23,000 tickets of ‘Undoctored,’ making it the most sought-after show among its 3,500 counterparts.

Adam recounts how his successful book journey took flight here when a friend brought along a book editor who later inquired about his diaries. The Edinburgh Fringe has significantly evolved since his early presence, particularly in terms of accessibility and rising costs of performing at multiplex venues.

Adam Kay, known for his humorous quips and gripping stories, has successfully sowed integral truths about mental health within NHS. His candid expression of the emotional turmoil suffered by doctors encased within an enthralling performance instigates thoughts around the human threshold. Having been a victim of PTSD and nightmares that led him to desert his medical profession, Adam’s concern for mental health care within the NHS staff is strongly resonant.

Despite facing marginal criticism for airing the job’s negative facets, he believes sharing his experiences stirred much-needed conversations. Post leaving his professional ordeal behind, Adam took to penning children’s books filled with deliciously revolting and hilariously factual tidbits. The science and history incorporated subtly within his narratives provoke intellectual curiosity among the most unenthusiastic young readers and are accelerating towards a global presence.

Adam’s rollercoaster journey continues with ‘Undoctored’ scheduled for performance at London’s Lyric theatre from 23 to 28 October and The Lowry, Salford, on 8 November. The hardback edition of ‘Kay’s Incredible Inventions,’ published by Puffin, will be out on 14 November. No matter the woes of sleepless nights or the exasperation of parenthood, both Adam’s unbeatable wit and gripping narratives find a way to keep his audience engaged and entertained.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here