Help! I Caught It Abroad

Tuesday, 7 September 2010, 9:00PM – 10:00PM on ITV1

Help I Caught it Abroad is back with another hour long special looking at the unusual and flesh-creeping bugs and illnesses that are picked up when people travel overseas.

This time the programme meets the doctors and nurses at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as they tackle patients who’ve been bitten by snakes and monkeys and infected with parasites that attack the liver and eyeballs.

The school, which is one of the world’s leading research centres, is at the forefront of developing new treatments for many of the world’s most dangerous tropical diseases and the film follows doctors as they treat travellers suffering from a range of conditions including malaria and even leprosy.

And one volunteer is seen having a lung wash and an invasive probe into his stomach.

The film also features the school’s ‘secret room’ which is home to a collection of some of the world’s most dangerous snakes which are kept for producing anti-venom that saves hundreds of lives worldwide.

The room also houses colonies of bugs and mosquitoes and the film captures one of them being fed a ‘blood meal’ on a doctors’ arm.

Help I Caught it Abroad 2 is a Special Edition Films production for ITV1. The director is Rob Gill, the DV director is David Lawrence and the executive producer is Ravinder Chahal.


Approaching Help! I Caught It Abroad (ITV1), I’d assumed it would be some Holiday Reps style programme, with people barfing up over their own pox-riddled genitalia. The bad news for anyone reading this review is that it was far more disgusting than that.

Horrifically so.

Despite the jaunty parp-parp music, like you’d normally hear in a ’70s sitcom about blithering but sweet idiots, this show was one of the most rotten things to ever glance across my brain.

It was a documentary set at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Central London. They do a wonderful job down there… but shit-me, the things they tackle could make me weep every single bone out of my sweat-glands.

As people are more prone to going on exotic holidays, then the more this country sees parasites and insects so disgusting that you’ll feel like never leaving the house ever again, just in case you come into contact with another human (who are, in my mind, all Symbiotic vom-fests after seeing Help! I Caught It Abroad).

So what exactly was so bad? Well, as the image above shows, there was a lot of wriggling sores broadcast for our dubious pleasure. One couple who had been to Peru came back with botfly maggots burrowing into their scalps. These had to be suffocated with a special gel and then popped out like blackheads. Only, these blackheads had terrible, staring eyes.

Then we were treated to an arrival at the hospital. Normally, hospital docuthings have a nice baby being born to bring a bit of light to the shade. This had two small buckets, spilling over with gigantic cysts that looked like gone-off calamari in a pus-sauce. Oh, and an embedded bleeding enormo-tick sucking a bishop’s leg.

Of course, all the dry-heaving horror was borderline fun. That’s because I like testing how strong my stomach is… and my will to watch pointless documentaries. However, all my niche-fun was ruined by a genuinely sad tale about a bloke who lost an eye, his fingers and legs thanks to malaria, passed via some flies. It was like a Tarrant On TV moment when you laugh at daft adverts and he throws one at you about cancer.

Naturally, that was soon rectified with some images of live parasites in someone’s bladder which makes people piss blood clots.

Weirdest of all though, was that the narrator of the show was, or sounded just like Timothy Forder who wrote nihilistic gloom-toon, Murun Buchstansangur. Of course, I don’t expect you to remember it, so click here to see it. This gave the programme a strangely comforting world weariness.

At the centre of the show, apart from the pantheon of revolting ailments and parasites, was the charming and slight odd Peter who was an expert in tropical diseases. We met him referring to a giant worm which had been retrieved from someone’s arse as “exciting”. I puked up a month’s worth of food by that point… but thank the stars for people like Peter. He loves his job so we don’t have to.

As for ITV1… jeez… I don’t know what they’re playing at putting this show on, but it’s the most vomity fun I’ve had in a while. I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach it again though.

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