‘It was more B&Q than NHS!’ Viewers were grossed out by Operation Live

‘More B&Q than NHS!’ Queasy viewers are disgusted but fascinated as surgeon uses a hammer and chisel ‘like a demented sculptor’ during brutal knee replacement surgery on live TV

  • London-based surgeon Steven Millington performed the procedure last night
  • It was the second instalment of Operation Live, after heart surgery on Tuesday
  • Viewers said they felt ‘weak kneed’ watching Mr Millington hammering away

Viewers watching a knee replacement live on TV last night were disgusted and fascinated in equal measure by the gory procedure.

The second installment of Operation Live, on Channel 5, showed surgeon Steven Millington at the Royal London Hospital perform the routine operation.

But people watching were surprised by the use of power tools and a hammer as a patient’s knee joint was replaced with a metal one.

Those commenting on social media were impressed by the medics’ work, but also admitted feeling ‘weak kneed’, saying the op was ‘more B&Q than NHS’.

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The second episode of Channel 5’s Operation Live last night showed surgeons performing a knee replacement operation, for which viewers had a lot of admiration and also said they felt ‘queasy’ watching the procedure, which is done on around 70,000 people in the UK each year

Knee replacements are used to repair damaged or worn out joints by carving off part of the bone and replacing it with metal and plastic devices.

Because they need to cut off bone and solidly fix the new joint to a moving part of the body, surgeons use drills, electric saws and hammers, and a lot of force.

Some viewers watching last night’s show were taken aback by the brutality of the operation. The patient was awake throughout.

Geoff Gray tweeted: ‘It was more B&Q than NHS. But totally enthralling, brilliant.’

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Jon Wooldridge joked: ‘ Was watching #OperationLive with mother but I went all weak kneed when he started banging away with a hammer and chisel like a demented sculpturer.’

Odette Lavaggio added: ‘Size of that tool kit. For a knee rebuild. Insane and how patient are the nurses and surgeons.’ 

Knee replacements are usually carried out on people aged between 60 and 80, and the NHS does more than 70,000 each year.

Viewers were astonished by the range of tools used by the surgeon, Steven Millington, with many deciding watching him use the hammer and chisel wasn’t for the faint-hearted

Geoff Gray joked the operation was ‘more B&Q than NHS’, referring to surgeons using drills, electric saws and hammers to complete the knee replacement on live TV

Jon Wooldridge said he went ‘weak kneed’ while watching the knee operation, comparing the surgeon’s use of tools to a ‘demented sculpturer’ and describing the work as ‘banging away’

Odette Lavaggio was impressed by the range of tools surgeons had to use for the operation

Chloe Pugh was among many people on Twitter who said they felt queasy while watching the operation, which wasn’t for the faint hearted, showing a gory open wound and bone-sawing

User Maggie said she was struggling to keep her dinner down while watching the procedure, which was filmed in high-definition close-up detail with a camera on the surgeon’s body

Many people watching said they knew people who had had the procedure, or had been patients themselves, and the show gave an interesting but stomach-churning insight into how it’s done.

Chloe Pugh said: ‘I felt incredibly queasy and uncomfortable watching last night’s op but glad I stuck with it!’

User Maggie agreed, tweeting: ‘Struggling to keep ma dinner down watching #OperationLive, soooo interestiving tho… GLUED’.

And Tony Wilkinson agreed it was ‘fascinating’ but added an emoji showing a face on the verge of vomiting.

Mr Millington could be seen hammering the new knee joint into place after having sawed off part of the leg bone to make sure it fit on correctly 

Tony Wilkinson said the programme was ‘fascinating’ but suggested it also made him feel sick

Carl Liquorish agreed that the operation was interesting and described it as ‘brutal but worth it’ to watch the procedure

Twitter user Holz1 said he was trying not to be sick and added ‘The human body is a disgustingly amazing machine. These docs are body mechanics’

The Operation Live series began yesterday, showing London-based surgeon Kulvinder Lall performing open heart surgery.

And it will continue tonight, with the episode ‘Removing the Tumour’, when Professor Shafi Ahmed at the Royal London Hospital will remove a cancerous tumour from a patient’s colon at 10pm on Channel 5.

Carl Liquorish said on Twitter of last night’s episode: ‘Fascinating to see, in detail, how the operation is done. Brutal in places but worth it.’

And user Holz1 added: ‘The human body is a disgustingly amazing machine. These docs are body mechanics.’ 

Some eagle-eyed viewers got sidetracked from the gripping surgery and noticed the clock on the wall in the operating room was half an hour behind.  

But they were corrected by others who explained the show has a time delay in case something goes wrong during surgery, so the stream can be stopped if the patient has a bad reaction.

Twitter user Ken was one of many viewers who noticed the clock on the wall was half an hour behind, saying ‘Live? Really?’ but this was explained by other people on the social network


A knee replacement is a routine operation given to people whose joints are so worn or damaged they cause pain or disability – most commonly this damage is caused by arthritis.

The surgery is done by cutting off the worn parts of a patient’s knee – on the ends of the thigh and shin bones – and replacing them with metal parts instead. This reduces friction when the knee moves.

More than 70,000 of the procedures are done every year in the UK, most of which are on patients between the ages of 60 and 80. 

A knee replacement is a major operation and is usually only offered if someone has already tried other treatment like physiotherapy and steroid injections.

People usually spend a few days in hospital recovering after the procedure, but should be able to get back on their feet soon afterwards.

Source: NHS

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