Pain, Pus and Poison
Monday, 8.30pm, SBS One The title is somewhat off-putting, but this is the fascinating story of how great minds discovered how to ‘‘ delete and erase’’ pain. Doctor, journalist and popular TV presenter ( Inside the Human Body) Michael Mosley leads us through two centuries of ‘‘ greed, luck and genius’’ as various experts and quacks try to find the answer to solving pain. Today it’s unthinkable that a patient wouldn’t be anaesthetised before an operation — be it for a leg amputation or root canal therapy — but 200 years ago it was a case of pass the tool kit and muffle the screams. In 1804, after experimenting on himself with almost fatal consequences, German pharmacologist Friedrich Serturner isolated morphine from opium — arguably the single most important event in drug discovery. Thank you, Herr Serturner. Mosley completely loses the plot and laughs like a girl after a burst of nitrous oxide and, pretending to be a heart surgeon, tries to resist a dose of the truth drug but ends up confessing all to an amused colleague.