Doctors (2000 TV series)
|Genre||Medical soap opera|
|Created by||Chris Murray|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||21|
|No. of episodes||3,955|
|Executive producer(s)||Currently: |
Peter Eryl Lloyd
Simon J Curtis
Steve M Kelly
|Production company(s)||BBC Birmingham|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||26 March 2000 –|
Doctors is a British medical soap opera which began broadcasting on BBC One on 26 March 2000. Set in the fictional West Midlands town of Letherbridge, the soap follows the lives of the staff of both an NHS doctor's surgery and a university campus surgery, as well as their families and friends. Initially, 41 episodes of Doctors were ordered and due to the positive reception, BBC ordered it as a continuing soap opera.
Since its inception, Doctors has consistently won the share in its daytime time slot, and as of 2020, it averages at 1.6 million live viewers. The programme has been nominated for and won numerous awards, and has been praised for tackling issues that are considered to be controversial and taboo issues in British culture and social life that are typically unseen on British television. Since 2016, Doctors has taken an annual transmission break during the summer to accommodate the BBC's coverage of sport ceremonies and other daytime dramas.
Creation and time slot
Doctors is produced by BBC Birmingham and is screened on BBC One, with the first episode broadcast on 26 March 2000. It was created by Chris Murray, with Mal Young as executive producer and Carson Black as original producer. In the first three years of broadcast, Doctors was produced and broadcast in blocks of episodes, ranging from blocks of 40 to 130 episodes. As a result, from series five in 2002 until January 2007, Doctors took lengthy breaks in transmission over the summer to accommodate the coverage of worldwide sport events. However, the series' audience developed and increased, prompting the BBC to commission Doctors as a year-round soap opera. Since the programme's inception, Doctors has filmed episodes three months in advance of broadcast.
Doctors was originally shown at 12:30 pm as a lead-in to BBC News at One. For a brief trial period in summer 2000, selected episodes from the first series were shown on Fridays at 7:00 pm, but due to rival soap Emmerdale being transmitted at the same time, Doctors suffered from low ratings, and was trialled in a 2:10 pm time slot. Doctors was temporarily moved to allow for extended news coverage of the September 11 attacks, its regular slot changed to 2:10pm, following directly after Australian soap opera Neighbours. The series later moved into its current timeslot of 1:45 pm in 2008. Cast member Diane Keen commented that she believes Doctors should be broadcast in a prime time slot, stating: "I often see things on in the evening and wonder how on earth it actually ever got made in the first place. There is stuff you watch and you think, 'that was so bad, how did they get that on?'. And then you have a show like this that is so consistently of a high standard and totally unafraid to deal with very difficult issues." Controller of BBC Daytime scheduled Liam Keelan commented: "its true home will always be as a hugely appreciated early afternoon drama."
In a 2010 review of BBC continuing dramas, it was reported by Digital Spy that Doctors regularly won the largest share in its time slot, and attracted consistent audience numbers, with an average of 2 million viewers per episode. In 2020, executive producer Mike Hobson was asked by Allison Jones of Inside Soap if he would consider a late-night time slot, to which he commented: "for our audience, we sit quite nicely. Even if we were on at night, we'd still tackle all the powerful subject matters we do now. We might see more sex, or say the odd 'F' word – but will that be more powerful than we are already?"
From 2000 to 2004, Doctors was filmed at the BBC's former Pebble Mill studios in Edgbaston. The series used space originally occupied by Pebble Mill at One, and as Studio A had been mothballed a year before production started, the existing building had to be used for the show. After the closure of Pebble Mill, BBC Birmingham moved to a smaller production base in Birmingham City Centre which had no studio space for the show. In light of this, the show moved to the new BBC Drama Village development in Selly Oak, with the transition between locations achieved on screen by an explosion destroying the Riverside Health Centre, named after the series' original production home. Alongside The Mill Health Centre, other regular locations include the police station, The Icon Bar, The Campus Surgery and HMP Letherbank Prison.
On 4 June 2016, it was confirmed that Doctors was to take a three-month transmission break from 10 June 2016; the first long summer break since 2006. This was to accommodate the BBC's coverage of UEFA Euro 2016, Wimbledon, Rio 2016 Olympics and Red Rock. The series returned on 30 August 2016. On 25 June 2017, it was confirmed that Doctors was to take a nine-week transmission break from 30 June 2017. This was to accommodate the BBC's coverage of Wimbledon and Red Rock. The series returned on 4 September 2017. On 18 June 2018, it was confirmed that Doctors was to take a nine-week transmission break from 27 June 2018. This was to accommodate the BBC's coverage of 2018 FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon, European Championships and Red Rock. The series returned on 3 September 2018. On 21 June 2019, Doctors began a ten-week transmission break, to accommodate the BBC's coverage of Wimbledon, London Kills the week before Wimbledon, 10 of the last 12 episodes of Red Rock and the last series of 800 Words. The series returned on 2 September 2019. The programme went on its 2020 summer break after the episode broadcast on 12 June 2020, which was the original date of UEFA Euro 2020.
2000–2010: Decade of Doctors
In 2003, Doctors was nominated for Best British Soap at The British Soap Awards for the first time, where it has been nominated annually since. The next year, Doctors then won their first award at the British Soap Awards, when they won Best Single Episode for "Say A Little Prayer". Young departed from the position of executive producer on 6 April 2005, with Will Trotter assuming the position from the next day.
In April 2006, Doctors aired the first same sex wedding on British television, when characters Greg Robinson (Ben Jones) and Rico Da Silva (Felix D'Alviella) got married. On 26 March 2010, Doctors celebrated its 10th anniversary and 1800th episode. Under the title Decade of Doctors, the BBC aired five-minute episodes about the series after each day's episode during the anniversary week. In each episode, cast and crew members talked about topics including the conception of the series, their favourite storylines and facts about Doctors.
2011–present: Further milestones
On 16 February 2011, Doctors aired its 2000th episode, "Quarantine", which was extended and ran for 60 minutes. From 17 September 2012 for 5 days, special red button episodes aired after the regular episodes, focusing on the conclusion of the Harrison Kellor (James Larkin) storyline, exploring Elaine Cassidy (Janet Dibley) and how she dealt with Harrison's change of plea for Lauren Porter's (Alexis Peterman) murder. On 16 June 2015, Trotter departed from the position of executive producer, with Mike Hobson assuming the position from the next day. On 10 September 2015, Doctors aired its 3000th episode, "The Heart of England", which was extended and ran for 60 minutes. At the 2018 British Soap Awards, Doctors won a shared award with fellow BBC soap EastEnders. Both soaps won the award for Scene of the Year; the first time two soaps have won a singular award.
In November 2019, it was confirmed via Twitter that Doctors were filming for the 20th anniversary episode. As part of the celebrations for the milestone, Julia Parsons (Diane Keen) is set to return in March 2020. It was also revealed that every regular cast member in the series will be featured in a scene together. To celebrate the 20th year of Doctors, a competition was opened for viewers to visit the set at BBC Drama Village on 18 March 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the set tour was postponed, and it was later announced that filming of Doctors has been postponed due to the virus. On 26 March 2020, a 60-minute episode titled "A Day in the Life..." was broadcast, which saw the conclusion of a long-running prison storyline involving Jimmi Clay (Adrian Lewis Morgan), and a documentary being made about The Mill. Also in March 2020, an episode starring Joe Pasquale was broadcast. The episode, titled "The Joe Pasquale Problem", displays patient Lizzie Milton (Adele James) suffering from the Fregoli delusion, seeing everyone as Pasquale. Beth Maloney of Entertainment Daily described the episode as "bizarre" but "amazing".
On 22 May 2020, despite having the government's permission to recommence production, Doctors announced that a lockdown episode was being filmed at cast members homes using their mobile phones. Doctors became the first soap opera to address the pandemic, as well as the first to film an episode solely using mobile devices. The episode, titled "Can You Hear Me?", aired on 12 June 2020. On the same day of the episode's broadcast, producer Peter Eryl Lloyd announced that the production team had donated all personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS, so upon the programme's return, the characters will not be wearing PPE in scenes broadcast on television. In August 2020, it was announced that Doctors had resumed filming, with Hobson stating that it was a "long process of preparing the set, the crew and actors, to make sure we are working in the safest environment possible". Doctors returns to transmission on 2 November with four weekly episodes, rather than the typical five.
The storylines originally dealt with the lives of staff and patients at the fictional Riverside Health Centre and its secondary location, The Best Practice. During the early years, many storylines revolved around the lead character of Mac McGuire (Christopher Timothy) and his family life. These storylines include his romance with Julia Parsons (Diane Keen) and his son, Liam McGuire (Tim Matthews), facing a sexual assault allegation.
In 2007, when more episodes were shown and there were fewer breaks in transmission, storylines included: receptionist Donna Parmar (Martha Howe Douglas) breaking patient confidentiality and her sacking from the Mill (2007), Nick West's (Michael McKell) car crash and later death (2008) and receptionist Vivien March's (Anita Carey) rape in 2008, which received recognition at The British Soap Awards in 2009 and 2018. 2009 also saw the departure of longstanding major characters Ronnie (Seán Gleeson), George (Stirling Gallacher) and Bracken Woodson (Jessica Gallagher). During the 2000s, numerous longstanding characters were introduced, including: Jimmi Clay (Adrian Lewis Morgan), Daniel Granger (Matthew Chambers) and Zara Carmichael (Elisabeth Dermot Walsh). 2009 saw the introduction of the Hollins family; Karen (Jan Pearson), Rob (Chris Walker), Imogen (Charlie Clemmow) and Jack Hollins (Nicolas Woodman).
In 2011, receptionist Karen fell pregnant and had an abortion, which saw a breakdown in her relationship with husband Rob, and their later separation. 2011 also saw the arrival of receptionist Mrs Tembe (Lorna Laidlaw) and trainee GPs Kevin Tyler (Simon Rivers) and Freya Wilson (Lu Corfield), as well as the murder of temporary receptionist Lauren Porter (Alexis Peterman) by Harrison Kellor (James Larkin).
In 2012, Heston Carter (Owen Brenman) embarked on a relationship with health visitor Marina Bonnaire (Marian McLoughlin), which saw Heston subjected to domestic abuse. 2012 also saw Zara and Daniel have a baby, Joe Granger Carmichael (Emily and Lewis Whitehouse). After Keen departed from her role as Julia, Howard Bellamy (Ian Kelsey) arrives, and Zara and Daniel decide to separate after she finds out about his affair with Cherry Clay (Sophie Abelson), the wife of Jimmi. 2012 also saw the introduction of doctor Emma (Dido Miles) and her son, Chris Reid (Nathan Wright, who became a nurse at The Mill.
In 2013, Mrs Tembe gains a new love interest – Gordon Clement (Steven Elder), the vicar of her church. Later that year, Jas Khella (Vineeta Rishi) is harassed by an obsessive stalker, Al Haskey (Ian Midlane), who is smitten by Jas. In 2014, Karen is involved in a car accident, and suffers severe head trauma and as a result, lost all of her memories from the age of 18 onwards. She spends months trying to readjust, knowing that she has two adult children and a husband. After Jas leaves Letherbridge, doctor Niamh Donoghue (Jessica Regan) is introduced as a love interest for Al. Heston struggles with memory loss and undergoes several tests designed to determine whether he is suffering from early-onset dementia. Mandy decides that it is time to move on from The Mill and is replaced by a new nurse, Ayesha Lee (Laura Rollins).
2015 sees the introduction of two regular characters: doctor Sid Vere (Ashley Rice) and midwife Ruhma Hanif (Bharti Patel). 2015 also sees Doctors 3000th episode, in which a special storyline was created centring on a number of the main characters, most specifically Rob; when he was younger, he caused a car accident, but his childhood friend, took the blame as Rob was about to enter the police force. In 2016, Anthony Harker (Adam Astill) joins as a new Practice Manager, and bullies Mrs Tembe, who leaves to work for a rival surgery. Anthony's autocratic management style then targets Jimmi, who forms a plan with Mrs Tembe and Daniel to take over The Mill. Mrs Tembe is offered the position of Practice Manager, which she accepts. 2016 also sees the beginning of a fostering storyline for Karen and Rob, with the pair getting the necessary training to become foster parents. The Doctors research team worked with British charity The Fostering Network for a year ahead of the storyline in order to represent fostering accurately, and they credited the programme with an insurgence of fostering representation on television.
In 2018, Zara and Daniel are driven apart again, this time by Daniel's daughter Izzie Torres (Bethan Moore), who pushes Zara to her limits. Zara slaps Izzie, causing Daniel to walk out on her. After Daniel returns home, he finds a drunken Zara has slept with Sid, which results in Daniel punching Sid and ending his relationship with Zara. In January 2019, Mrs Tembe becomes engaged to Gordon, and decides to leave Letherbridge with him for Newcastle; Mrs Tembe meets Becky Clarke (Ali Bastian), who she hires as the new Practice Manager. After an awkward interview with Zara, Daniel and Mrs Tembe, Becky is offered the position of Practice Manager. Becky gets into a relationship with Daniel, and eventually becomes pregnant. However, she miscarries, and Daniel sees it as an opportunity to reveal that he does not want more kids, and that he cheated on her with Zara. Becky ends her relationship with Daniel, and departs from The Mill. Becky is replaced by Business Manager Bear Sylvester (Dex Lee). In late 2019, twin brothers Adam and Gareth Regan (Edward MacLiam) are introduced. Adam begins a relationship with Zara, while Gareth moves in with Emma. Weeks into their relationships, it transpires that Gareth is addicted to drugs and jealous of his brother. He goes to Zara's house pretending to be Adam, and attempts to rape Zara. She fights back, and he is subsequently arrested and charged. In the final episodes of 2019, Jimmi begins to experience strange events; he is mugged, his house alarm alerts on several occasions, and strangers arrive at The Icon asking for him. He is eventually arrested for the possession of drugs, and despite the staff at The Mill trying to prove his innocence and get him freed in time for Christmas, they fail.
The beginning of 2020 sees Jimmi's colleagues attempt to prove that he is innocent. Daniel, Al, Valerie, and Emma discover that Jimmi was framed by his solicitor, John Butler (Richard Huw). John blames Jimmi for the death of his son, George Kenway (Lewis MacKinnon), so he orchestrated a plan to avenge George by ruining Jimmi's life. When he is released from prison, Keen reprised her role of Julia, who helps him with post-prison life by taking him to France. Ruhma is suspended from midwifery duties when she is kissed by Doug Machin (Michael Hobbs), which leads to the introduction of Deborah Kovak (Jamie-Rose Monk), who temporarily replaces Ruhma at The Mill. Another focus of 2020 was Karen and Rob's fostering experiences, including Abz Baker's (Amy Bowden) rape and Jayden Hunt's (Ciaran Stow) epilepsy. 2020 also sees the departure of Ayesha, as Rollins leaves her role after six years. She is given the opportunity to front a worldwide malaria campaign, and despite her beginning a romance with Bear, she leaves to pursue it.
Earlier episodes included a noticeably smaller cast, with episodes more self-contained. However, with the increased number of episodes, the cast also increased to include continuing storylines. The longest serving actor is currently Adrian Lewis Morgan, who has portrayed the role of Jimmi Clay since 5 September 2005.
|Jimmi Clay||Adrian Lewis Morgan||General practitioner, police surgeon||5 September 2005|
|Daniel Granger||Matthew Chambers||General practitioner, partner||9 July 2007|
|Karen Hollins||Jan Pearson||Head receptionist||23 February 2009|
|Zara Carmichael||Elisabeth Dermot Walsh||General practitioner, partner||4 June 2009|
|Rob Hollins||Chris Walker||Police sergeant||24 July 2009|
|Emma Reid||Dido Miles||General practitioner, police surgeon||2 October 2012|
|Valerie Pitman||Sarah Moyle||Receptionist||15 October 2012|
|Al Haskey||Ian Midlane||General practitioner||13 November 2012|
|Sid Vere||Ashley Rice||General practitioner, first responder||27 April 2015|
|Ruhma Carter||Bharti Patel||Senior Sister and consultant midwife||15 October 2015|
|Bear Sylvester||Dex Lee||Business manager||18 November 2019|
Recurring and guest characters
|Izzie Torres||Bethan Moore||Relative||15 December 2008|
|Jasmin and Nicole Parkinson|
|Barry Biglow||David Perks||Security guard||9 April 2010|
|Joe Granger Carmichael||Oliver Falconer||Relative||13 February 2012|
|Kaiden and Kori Leigh Miles|
|Corey and Luka Donnelly|
|Nathaniel Arthur Stocks|
|Harrison and Lily-Sue Horbury|
|Olivia and Oscar Wilson|
|Emily and Lewis Whitehouse|
|Shak Hanif||Sunjay Midda||Relative and police apprentice||14 December 2015|
|Eve Haskey||Rachel Bell||Relative||6 March 2017|
|Deborah Kovak||Jamie-Rose Monk||Midwife||26 May 2020|
|Jayden Hunt||Ciaran Stow||Foster relative||30 April 2020|
|Harper||Tyrone Huggins (voice)||Smart speaker||27 May 2020|
|Lily Walker||Verity Rushworth||Receptionist||9 June 2020|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||41||26 March 2000||19 May 2000|
|2||116||2 October 2000||1 June 2001|
|3||129||3 September 2001||22 May 2002|
|4||154||2 September 2002||13 June 2003|
|5||182||1 September 2003||14 June 2004|
|6||139||6 September 2004||6 April 2005|
|7||185||18 April 2005||13 April 2006|
|8||185||24 April 2006||13 April 2007|
|9||212||23 April 2007||20 March 2008|
|10||223||31 March 2008||27 March 2009|
|11||234||30 March 2009||30 March 2010|
|12||230||1 April 2010||1 April 2011|
|13||231||31 March 2011||31 March 2012|
|14||221||2 April 2012||28 March 2013|
|15||222||2 April 2013||31 March 2014|
|16||219||1 April 2014||27 March 2015|
|17||217||13 April 2015||1 April 2016|
|18||187||1 April 2016||14 April 2017|
|19||289||17 April 2017||2 November 2018|
|20||195||5 November 2018||6 November 2019|
|21||196||7 November 2019||TBA|
- In 2002, episodes received an average of 2.5 million viewers.
- In 2009, the episode which reached the highest ratings in Doctors history was "Restraint", which was aired on 31 March, and saw Ruth Pearce (Selina Chilton) admitted to a psychiatric hospital after developing an obsession over colleague and friend, Michelle Corrigan (Donnaleigh Bailey). Another episode in 2009 that reached 3.4 million viewers was "Cold Comfort", which was the last episode aired in 2009; it involved the Christmas party, which saw Lily Hassan's (Seeta Indrani) marriage proposal to Heston Carter (Owen Brenman) turned down.
- In 2010, the highest watched episode received 2.9 million viewers. The average for the year was 2 million.
- In 2014, episodes in January reached 1.7 million, with a peak of 1.8 million. On 12 February, the highest rating of the year of 1.94 million was achieved.
- In 2015, the average amount of viewers per episode was 2 million.
- In 2017, episodes averaged at 2.5 million viewers, with a peak of 4 million viewers.
- In 2020, Radio Times reported that episodes receive an average of 1.6 million viewers.
Awards and nominations
|British Academy Television Awards||0||5|
|The British Soap Awards||15||156|
|Inside Soap Awards||2||55|
|National Television Awards||0||20|
|Royal Television Society Awards||13||33|
|Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards||1||3|
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