Bodies (TV series)

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Bodies title card.jpg
Series title card
Created by Jed Mercurio

Max Beesley
Patrick Baladi
Neve McIntosh
Keith Allen
Susan Lynch
Tamzin Malleson
Preeya Kalidas
Simon Lowe
Hattie Morahan
Vicky Hall
Nicholas Palliser
Saskia Reeves
Mary Stockley

(Liz Hume-Dawson)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 17
Running time 60 min (16 episodes) / 90 min (Finale Special)
Production company(s) Hat Trick Productions
Original network BBC Three
Original release 23 June 2004 – 13 December 2006

Bodies is a British television medical drama produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC. Created by Jed Mercurio, the series began in 2004 and is based on his book Bodies.[1] In December 2009, The Times ranked Bodies in 9th place in its list of "Shows of the Decade". The Guardian has ranked the series among "The Greatest Television Dramas of All-Time".[2]


The story is centred on specialist registrar Rob Lake (Max Beesley), who starts the first series in a new post in the Obstetrics and gynaecology Department at the fictional South Central Infirmary, under the guidance of consultant obstetrician Roger Hurley (Patrick Baladi).

Broadcast history[edit]

The first series debuted on BBC Three as the channel at this time was trying to break out into hour-long dramas. The first series soon made the move to a terrestrial channel as BBC Two aired it in the late 2004. With end of the first series left open-ended, BBC Three and BBC Two co-commissioned a second series, increasing the number of episodes from six to ten.

BBC Two debuted the second series in September 2005 with BBC Three airing the next episode straight after the episode on BBC Two. Despite widespread critical acclaim, the BBC did not order a third series as it was not possible to renew the co-commission from both BBC3 and BBC2.

After the second series ended, Max Beesley told BBC Radio 1's The Chris Moyles Show that an additional one or two episodes were being planned to conclude the series. The drama has been described as a "dark, sometimes funny" take on the favourite genre made popular through shows such as Casualty and Holby City.

The series, starring Max Beesley, Keith Allen and Patrick Baladi has developed a cult following with its gritty storylines and gruesome theatre scenes. The series was also broadcast to American audiences on digital channel BBC America during the late summer/early autumn of 2005.

The last episode was broadcast on 13 December 2006 on BBC Three.

Series 1[edit]

Lake realises that despite his friendly, professional demeanour and strong academics, his colleague, Hurley, is an incompetent surgeon who regularly bungles surgical procedures, to the detriment of his patients. Hurley is, however, protected by the principle "Doctors look after doctors", a phrase often repeated throughout the series. Initially, Lake is also protected by this principle, when his involvement in a death of a patient is covered up, although this death haunts him.

Initially, Lake seeks to become a whistleblower, after seeing Hurley's gross incompetence and negligence, particularly after he badly mishandles a birth in which an abruption occurs, leaving the mother with substantial brain damage. The anaesthetist for the operation, Dr. Maria Orton, makes an official complaint against Hurley, but her colleagues close ranks around him. The pregnant Dr. Orton is ostracised, and the stress of the situation causes her to miscarry. She is eventually sectioned and admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Pressure from outside authorities, hospital politics and blackmail from Hurley eventually forces Lake into silence. Unable to oust him yet forced to work with him, Lake soon seeks a way out and finds a post at another hospital. But Hurley, despite agreeing that he should move on, changes his mind, ruins Lake's chance to escape by informing his new employers of Lake's mistakes and his real reasons for wanting to leave.

At the end of the season, Hurley is shown to be in line for promotion as the hospital's clinical director. Lake, trapped in his job, comes clean to the relatives of the patient whose death he caused, so that, in his own words, he may be judged. The series ends on this cliffhanger.

Series 2[edit]

The series continues with the main overlying storyline of the constant struggle between Hurley and Lake. This season also saw the arrival of a new departmental manager, Chrissy Farrell.

At the start of the second series, Lake is about to leave the hospital but, with no real job prospects elsewhere, he decides to remain. Lake and Hurley then begin to form a respectful professional relationship, with Lake turning a blind eye to Hurley's incompetence.

Despite this, Donna Rix, a nurse with whom Lake was having an affair, views Hurley's ineptitude with increasing alarm. She starts to vocalize her distress and sends anonymous letters to Hurley and other members of staff in an attempt to bring wider attention to this issue. Lake, seeing this, pleads with Donna to act with restraint, claiming that Hurley will be brought down but not in this fashion.

Towards the end of the series, Hurley's life begins to take a downward spiral. Attempts to have another child are scuppered after he finds out he has a low sperm count and furthermore, is suspected of having an affair with a fellow doctor, soon leading to the breakdown of his marriage.


This 90-minute finale of the whole series, aired only on BBC Three, took up the story approximately three years after the end of the previous season.

Rob is now placed at a University Hospital and is about to father a child with co-worker Polly Grey (Tamzin Malleson). Hurley's life however has continued to deteriorate. He is forced to resign from his position after being arrested for indecent exposure and takes up a new job coincidentally at Rob's new place of work. Donna on the other hand has left nursing altogether and has become a journalist.

When Lake and Hurley meet up once more, old tensions are revived. However, Hurley's reputation has experienced significant decline and is a far weaker figure in Lake's eyes. Consequently, he renews his attacks on Hurley's incompetence with renewed vigour, especially after encountering another maternal and foetal death at the hands of Hurley; and also by the fact Lake has begun to show symptoms of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease due to Hurley cutting Lake during a surgical operation, so feels he has little to lose.

Around this time, Lake's girlfriend Polly then goes into labour. Complications soon arise and the baby has to be delivered surgically, bringing Lake into direct conflict with Hurley. Hurley begins to operate, however halfway through, Lake, fearing further harm to mother and child, forces him to step aside and allow him to finish. The birth goes through successfully, but Polly is so distraught by the process that she promises that he will never see her or his baby. Consequently, Lake, without a family and with a potentially fatal disease decides to fully indict Hurley. Knowing that it will ruin his career, Lake reports Hurley to the General Medical Council, subsequently suspending him from his position as consultant at University Hospital. The special ends with Lake sitting down with a fellow consultant where he then finds out whether he has contracted the human strain of Mad cow disease; however they are not revealed to the viewer.


The series was quite different from most other archetypal British hospital dramas. The surgical scenes were notable for their graphic nature, offering intimate detail of various procedures, the operational complications dealt with in explicit detail. As a result, the themes were also often dark and depressing, including negligence, manipulation and death.

The storyline closest to one of love was the Rob and Donna affair, and even that was portrayed at times as being sordid and depraved, and depicted in sexually explicit fashion, underlining the sombre nature of the show.

Cast and crew[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2004 Royal Television Society Best Drama Series Jed Mercurio, Mark Redhead, Sue de Beauvoir Nominated
2004 Royal Television Society Best Drama Writer Jed Mercurio Nominated
2004 Royal Television Society Best Make-Up Effects Davy Jones Won
2004 BAFTA Best Drama Series Jed Mercurio, Mark Redhead, Sue de Beauvoir Nominated
2005 Royal Television Society Best Drama Series Jed Mercurio, Mark Redhead, Sue de Beauvoir Won
2005 Royal Television Society Best Drama Writer Jed Mercurio Nominated
2005 Royal Television Society Best Make-Up Effects Millennium FX Won
2005 BAFTA Best Drama Series Jed Mercurio, Mark Redhead, Sue de Beauvoir Nominated


In December 2009, The Times ranked Bodies in 9th place in its list of "Shows of the Decade", and in January 2010, The Guardian ranked Bodies number 20 of "The Greatest Television Dramas of All-Time".[3]

DVD release[edit]

DVD Name Episodes Release Dates
Complete Series One 6 30 October 2006
Complete Series Two and Finale 11 26 December 2006
The Complete Collection 17 9 April 2007


Book Name Author Release Date
Bodies (Paperback) Jed Mercurio 2 September 2004


External links[edit]