An interview with…Nicola Henderson, Mould chorus member

NHS workers perform in new musical at Edinburgh Fringe to send a message with a difference

Health care professionals from across the UK are coming together to sing a musical about the most major public health threat the world faces today – antibiotic resistance. Nicola Henderson is a GP at Coldstream Medical Practice but has stepped out of her day job to be part of spreading this important message.

The Mould that Changed the World is a brand new musical about antibiotics, which will be premiered this August at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 with a chorus of scientists and healthcare professionals who will sing alongside musical theatre singers and dancers with London West End credits. It tells the story of Alexander Fleming, a Scottish scientist who discovered penicillin 90 years ago, and changed the world with the development of antibiotics.


60 seconds with Nicola Henderson…

What’s the show all about?

This show is a musical about the original discovery of penicillin, the difficulties getting from that to antibiotics, the positive impact that went on to have, but then the ongoing difficulties with resistance and threat that that is to humanity.

If you had to describe it in 3 words, which would you use?

Unique, powerful, entertaining

What’s your day job?

I work as a GP in Coldstream.

How does it feel to step out of your usual role and onto the Edinburgh Fringe stage?

Like something I always wanted to do but me never thought I would! I come from a family of performers but have never been blessed with the right skills to take to the stage. So this project has been perfect, particularly it having a medical slant.

Why should people come and see the show?

The music is catchy, the lyrics are powerful, it has a very strong message and the audience will come away feeling empowered.

What’s your favourite line from the show?

Stand and salute our peacemakers and pioneers, we pay tribute to leaders and to volunteers. Steadfast pursuit, belief despite our greatest fears, those resolute, the best of us throughout the years.

This is about the discovery of antibiotics, but these words felt particularly poignant to me, in the 70th year of the NHS, with the current difficulties we are facing.

Antibiotic resistance has developed at an alarming rate, caused by many factors, from taking antibiotics to treat illnesses where they are ineffectual to individuals not finishing prescribed courses. If we don’t act now, antibiotic resistance could lead to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 (it currently claims about 700,000 lives per year). Common medical procedures such as gut surgery, caesarean sections, joint replacements, and treatments that depress the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer, will also become too dangerous to perform.