Children's Ward

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Children's Ward
Also known asThe Ward
Written byPaul Abbott
Kay Mellor
Directed bySteve Finn
Alan Bell
StarringRita May
Ian McCulloch
Carol Harvey
Andrew Hall
Janette Beverley
Tim Stanley
Ken Parry
Nina Baden-Semper
Ross King
Michael Bray
Judy Holt
Tom Higgins
Margery Bone
Jenny Luckraft
Tim Vincent
Rebecca Sowden
William Ash
Leyla Nejad
Dean Gatiss
Rachel Egan
Paul Swaine
Chris Bisson
Chloe Newsome
Carl Rice
Kieran O'Brien
Mark Dixon
Sarah Cooper
Gilly Coman
Will Mellor
Stephen Graham
Ben Sowden
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series12
No. of episodes143
Production locationsBolton, Greater Manchester, England, UK
Running time30 minutes
Production companyGranada Television
Original release
NetworkITV (CITV)
Release15 March 1989 (1989-03-15) –
4 May 2000 (2000-05-04)

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 in 1989 and running from then until 2000.

Production history[edit]

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 1997 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.

Welsh television producer Russell T Davies 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.

Filming location[edit]

Filmed at Bolton General Hospital (now the Royal Bolton Hospital), in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Some exterior shots (such as the exterior entrance to the children's hospital) were filmed outside the now demolished Maternity Hospital entrance at the former Withington Hospital, South Manchester.

"30 Years of CITV", which aired on ITV (CITV) 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.


Character Actor/Actress Occupation Duration Character description
Dr. McKeown Ian McCulloch Consultant Paediatrician 1989 Lead doctor until retirement at end of first series, was responsible for Fiona Brett's Accident.
Dr. Charlotte Woods Carol Harvey Originally Houseman to Dr McKeown, later Consultant Paediatrician 1989–1991 Ward B1's new senior doctor, tough but fair personality, marries Steve the social worker at end of season 3.
Dave Spencer Andrew Hall Charge Nurse 1989 Senior nurse who ran the ward with a firm grip, was Charlotte's love interest in Season 1 but left after a brief romance
Diane Meadows (later Gallagher) Janette Beverley Staff Nurse (1989)
Ward Sister (1990–1992, 1996)
Senior Staff Nurse (1993–1994)
1989–1994, 1996 Diane is a stalwart nurse in B1, she takes on more senior roles in later seasons, also deal with more serious matters for patients' welfare, Later marries Dr Gallagher and has a child with him. Diane is known for her warm smile and good bedside manner. She also teaches student nurses whilst on the ward.
Margaret 'Mags' Davis Rita May Auxiliary Nurse 1989–2000 Mags is the longstanding auxiliary nurse on the ward, she is known to be a mother-like figure to many of the patients and to build lasting friendships with the staff. Mags is a very practical person and is always willing to help people out. Whilst not a senior nurse, Mags is an essential part of the team.
Gary Miller Tim Stanley Student Nurse 1989–1991 Gary is a new student nurse progressing on the children's ward, clumsy and awkward at first but gains confidence and skills in later episodes; however, in Season 3, he loses his job due to an incident with a difficult patient.
Jack Crossley Ken Parry Porter and Sweet Trolley Man 1989–1991 Jack was the ward's trolley man, who was known to be a grouch to many people: however, he does have a softer side when patients are ill and will try to cheer them up.
Jan Stevens Nina Baden-Semper Staff Nurse 1989 Jan is a long-standing Staff nurse at the hospital, often giving 2 cent to a solution.
Unnamed Character Ross King Hospital Radio DJ 1989 Hospital's first radio DJ that helps kids settle at night and gave light entertainment; he was phased out after the first season.
Steve Bailey Michael Bray Social Worker 1989–1991 Steve is the local social worker, who deals with cases where there is child abuse and neglect involved; love interest of Charlotte Woods and marries her in Season 3. Steve also is crucial to cases when vulnerable families are involved.
Sister Sandra Mitchell Judy Holt Staff Nurse (1991)
Senior Staff Nurse (1991–1992)
Acting Deputy Clinical Matron (1992–1993)
Ward Sister (1993–1994)
1990–1996 Sandra is a senior nurse who has previous experience on adult nursing, manages the ward alongside Diane in later seasons. She was seen as a strict nurse, but we see a softer side as the seasons progress. Sandra was initially married to a police officer; she later got involved with Swifty's father, but she left him after he jilted her at the altar.
Dr. Kieran Gallagher Tom Higgins Senior House Officer, Emergency Medicine 1990–1991
Katie Grahams Margery Bone Student Nurse 1990–1991
Keely Johnson Jenny Luckraft Patient (1989)
Play Assistant
Student Nurse
Staff Nurse


Character Actor/Actress Duration
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
Claire Dobson Tina O'Brien 1997
Geri Stevens Kelly Greenwood 1997
Tash Vicky Binns 1997, 1999
Ruthie Emma McGrane 1997
Shona Hayley Fairclough 1997
Becky Holly Scourfield 1999
J.J. Chris Bisson 1990
Thea Chloe Newsome 1990
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

Actors to go on to other theatre and television work include Chris Bisson, Tina O'Brien, Samia Ghadie, Adele Silva, Alan Halsall, Stephen Graham, Steven Arnold, Danny Dyer, Jeff Hordley, Nikki Sanderson, Andrew Lee Potts, Vicky Binns, Ralf Little, Anthony Lewis, Tim Vincent, Kieran O'Brien, Ben Sowden, William Ash, Maxine Peake and Jane Danson.

Tie-in publications[edit]


  • 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.

Script book[edit]

  • 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.

DVD releases[edit]

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.[1] 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.

Streaming Services[edit]

The first series of Children's Ward is available on Britbox in the UK.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " - Classic TV drama Children's Ward comes to DVD this July". Retrieved 6 November 2021.

External links[edit]