|Also known as||The Ward (1995–1998)|
|Written by||Paul Abbott
|Directed by||Steve Finn
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||12|
|No. of episodes||143|
|Location(s)||Bolton, Greater Manchester, England, UK|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Granada Television|
|Original channel||ITV Network (CITV)|
|Original run||15 March 1989– 4 May 2000|
Children's Ward (retitled The Ward from 1995 to 1998) is a British children's television drama series produced by Granada Television and broadcast on the ITV network as part of its Children's ITV strand on weekday afternoons. The programme was set – as the title suggests – in Ward B1, the children's ward of the fictitious South Park Hospital (known as Sparky's), and told the stories of the young patients and the staff present there. Aimed at older children and teenagers, Children's Ward was a long-lived series for a children's drama, starting life in 1988 as a contribution to the Dramarama anthology strand, "Blackbird Singing In The Dead of Night", then first broadcast as a series 1989 and running from then until 2000.
The series was conceived by Granada staff writers Paul Abbott and Kay Mellor, both of whom went on to enjoy successful careers as award-winning writers of adult television drama. At the time, they were both working on the soap opera Coronation Street, and had recently collaborated on a script for Dramarama.
Abbott, who had been through a troubled childhood himself, had initially wanted to set the series in a children's care home rather than a hospital, but this was vetoed by Granada executives. During the course of its run, however, Children's Ward won many plaudits for covering difficult issues such as cancer, alcoholism, drug addiction and child abuse in a sensitive manner. The programme won many awards, including in 1996 a BAFTA Children's Award for Best Drama, won by an episode in which a serial killer lures children to him via the internet and is – highly unusually for children's television – not eventually caught.
As well as Abbott and Mellor, the series was worked on by many writers who have gone on to enjoy successful careers in adult television drama, perhaps most notably Russell T Davies, who was the show's producer, and writer of several episodes, from 1992 to 1995.
The decision to end Children's Ward came in mid-2000, after transmission of the final series, and ironically came as the sole original cast member Rita May – who played Auxiliary Nurse Mags – said she had no plans to leave the show.
On 5 and 6 January 2013, the show was repeated as part of CITV's Old Skool Weekend, which celebrated thirty years of the children's strand. This was also the first time the programme was seen on the CITV Channel.
30 Years of CITV, which aired on ITV1 on 29 December 2012, revealed that interior sets for the hospital were filmed next door to some of the Coronation Street interiors.
These are the original main characters from the first three series. Some lasted several years and appeared in subsequent series too:
|Dr. McKeown||Ian McCulloch||1989||Staff|
|Dr. Charlotte Woods||Carol Harvey||1989–1991|
|Dave Spencer||Andrew Hall||1989|
|Nurse/Sister Diane Meadows||Janette Beverley||1989–1994, 1996|
|Jack Crossley||Ken Parry||1989–1991|
|Jan Stevens||Nina Baden-Semper||1989|
|Hospital Radio DJ (voice)||Ross King||1989|
|Social Worker Steve Bailey||Michael Bray||1989–1991|
|Nurse/Sister Mitchell||Judy Holt||1990–1994|
|Dr. Kieran Gallagher||Tom Higgins||1990–1991|
|Student Nurse Grahams||Margery Bone||1990–1991|
|Keely Johnson||Jenny Luckraft||1989–1991||Patients|
|Billy Ryan||Tim Vincent||1989–1991|
|Fiona Brett||Rebecca Sowden||1989|
|Darren Walsh||William Ash||1989–1991|
|Dawn Khatir||Leyla Nejad||1989–1990|
|Mathew McCann||Dean Gatiss||1990|
|Lisa Dixon||Rachel Egan||1990|
|Ian Cassin.||Paul Swaine||1998|
|James Boyce||Carl Rice||1990|
|Lee Jones||Kieran O'Brien||1990|
|Cal Spicer||Mark Dixon||1990|
|Bryony Shaeffer||Sarah Cooper||1990|
|Ben Rowlingson||William Mellor||1990|
|Mickey Bell||Stephen Graham||1990|
|Scott Morris||Anthony Lewis||1996-1998|
- Actors to go on to other theatre and television work include; Chris Bisson, Tina O'Brien, Vicky Binns, Ralf Little, Anthony Lewis, Paul Swaine, Tim Vincent, Kieran O'Brien, Ben Sowden, Terence Hart, William Ash and Jane Danson.
- White, Helen (1990). Children's Ward. Network Books. ISBN 0-563-36170-0.
- White, Helen (1991). Children's Ward – Deadly Enemies. Network Books. ISBN 0-563-36263-4.
- White, Helen (1991). Children's Ward – Make or Break. Network Books. ISBN 0-563-36264-2.
- White, Helen (1992). Children's Ward – Lost and Found. Network Books. ISBN 0-563-36391-6.
- White, Helen (1993). Children's Ward – On the Run. Network Books. ISBN 0-563-36726-1.
- White, Helen (1994). Children's Ward – The Crash. Puffin Books. ISBN 0-14-037350-0.
- Exact title unknown, possibly Children's Ward. Edited by Lawrence Till (contains selected scripts from the series by Paul Abbott, Kay Mellor and John Chambers), published by Heinemann Plays/Oxford in 1992.
Unlike many UK shows, Children's Ward has not been available in other English-speaking countries such as Australia or the U.S.A. prior to the U.K.. In May 2011, a U.K. DVD release was announced for release in July 2011 for the first series from Network DVD. Series 2 followed in October 2011, and Series 3 in January 2012. Series 4 was originally scheduled June 2013, but as yet has not been released.