Doctors (BBC TV series)
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|Genre||Medical soap opera|
|Created by||Chris Murray|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||19|
|No. of episodes||3,565 (as of 8 June 2018)|
Peter Eryl Loyd
|Camera setup||Video, Multiple-camera setup|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||BBC Birmingham|
BBC Two (Episode 2943, 2978, 9 Jun 2017)
16:9 576i (2000–)|
16:9 1080i (2009–)
|Original release||26 March 2000– present|
Set in the fictional Midlands town of Letherbridge, defined (in the programme) as being in the city of Birmingham, the soap follows the lives of the staff of both a Doctor's surgery and University Campus Surgery as well as their families and friends.
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 developing it and Carson Black the original producer. The show has been shown at lunchtime since its inception, originally at 12.30pm as a lead-in to the BBC's One O'Clock News. After it was temporarily moved to allow for extended news coverage of the 11 September 2001 attacks, its regular slot changed to 2:10 pm, following directly after Neighbours, after ratings rose to a 25% audience share. When the BBC lost Neighbours to Channel 5 in January 2008, it moved into the Australian soap's old slot of 1:45pm. For a brief trial period in Summer 2000, selected episodes from the first series were shown on Fridays at 7 pm and from 16 February 2009, the show began transmitting in high definition on BBC HD at 4:00pm the same day.
Doctors was originally produced and broadcast in blocks of episodes, ranging from blocks of 40 to 130 episodes in the first three years. For example, from season five in 2002 until January 2007, Doctors took lengthy breaks in transmission over the Summer, usually for six weeks, to accommodate the length of transmission. However, the series' audience has developed and increased, prompting the BBC to commission Doctors as a year-round continuing series. Currently, the show breaks in the summer for the Wimbledon Tennis matches held for two weeks, broadcasting of the Olympic Games, Christmas and Easter period holidays and for bank holidays, also the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship.
On 26 March 2010, Doctors celebrated its 10th Anniversary and 1800th episode. Under the title Decade of Doctors, the BBC aired five-minute programmes about the show after each day's episode during the anniversary week. On 16 February 2011, Doctors aired its 2,000th 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 show, focusing on the conclusion of the Harrison Kellor storyline, exploring Elaine Cassidy and her dealing with Harrison's change of plea for Lauren Porter's murder. On 10 September 2015, Doctors aired its 3,000th episode, The Heart of England, which was also extended and ran for 60 minutes.
On 4 June 2016, it was confirmed that Doctors was to take a three-month transmission break from 10 June 2016. 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 and Red Rock. The series will return on 3 September 2018.
In Ireland, the series is shown on RTÉ One at 12.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and at 12.15pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They are currently airing episodes a year behind the BBC, as well as being viewable on RTÉ Player. The series is also shown on BBC Entertainment and is currently just over two years behind in Iceland on Stöð 2 at 09.35 weekdays.
On 2 April 2013, airing Monday to Friday, the programme joined Australian channel BBC UKTV, starting with episode 155 of series 14; episodes were around two weeks behind the original UK broadcasts but ceased screening from Friday 29 August 2014.
Location and setting
Until mid-2004, Doctors was filmed at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The show utilised space originally occupied by Pebble Mill at One (1973–86) (Pebble Mill (1991–96)). As Studio A had been mothballed a year before production started, the existing building had to be utilised for the show. The Pebble Mill foyer was used as a street frontage and sets such as the police station and The Lether Bar used other areas of the studio complex alongside the Riverside surgery. Later in the storyline, The Best Practice was also introduced. Real houses were used for the homes of the staff and patients. After the closure of Pebble Mill, BBC Birmingham moved to a much 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, Birmingham, with the transition between locations achieved on screen by an explosion destroying the Riverside practice in March 2005 for the fifth anniversary of the series and the surgery moving to a new specially constructed set, The Mill Health Centre, named after the series' original production home. Alongside the surgery, other regular locations include the police station, The Icon Bar and since 2008, The Campus Surgery, after a storyline saw the practice take over the surgery at the fictional University of Letherbridge.
The show's storylines deal with the lives of staff and patients at the fictional Mill Health Centre and Campus Surgery. The format of each episode typically sees the doctors and nurses of the practice meeting their patients both at the surgeries and on house calls and dealing with their medical complaint, alongside the continuing storylines.
Doctors was first shown on BBC One on 26 March 2000 with an episode entitled "Letting Go", Mac McGuire (Christopher Timothy) is introduced as the head partner at a general practice, The Riverside Surgery, in the Midlands town of Letherbridge, with his second wife Kate (Maggie Cronin) as Office Manager and a team of young doctors: Dr Steve Rawlings (Mark Frost), Dr Helen Thompson (Corrine Wicks), Dr Rana Mistry (Akbar Kurtha) and Dr Caroline Powers (Jacqueline Leonard). Dr McGuire is shown dealing with an elderly couple, Margaret (Patricia Greene) and her husband Derek Richmond (Brian Cant), who is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. After years of marriage, she is reluctant to part with him but is persuaded by 'Mac' that he would be better being cared for in a home.
During the early years, many storylines revolved around the lead character of 'Mac' and his complicated family life. He rekindles his romance with his first wife, Julia Parsons (Diane Keen), embarking on an affair with her, which leads to the departure of his second wife, Kate. Julia replaces Kate as practice manager. 'Mac' remarries Julia. Their adult children appear in a number of storylines, including one where sexual assault is alleged against Liam McGuire (Tim Matthews). Eventually the marriage breaks down again. As 'Mac' prepares to depart it is revealed that he has been having another affair, with his former second wife, Kate, who makes a brief reappearance as part of his exit storyline.
In 2007, when more episodes were shown and there were fewer breaks in transmission, more storylines happened, including: receptionist Donna Parmar's breaking patient confidentiality and her sacking from the Mill (2007), Dr Nick West's car crash and later death (2008) and receptionist Vivien March's rape in 2008, which caused a stir in the media and received recognition at The British Soap Awards in 2009. With the departure of Dr Joe Fenton a new doctor was introduced, Dr Daniel Granger, the nephew of Dr Fenton. One of the first storylines for the character involved his gambling addiction. 2009 also saw the departure of long-standing major characters Ronnie, George and Bracken Woodson.
In the soap's decade anniversary year in 2010, the longest standing character, practice manager Julia Parsons, suffered with Lyme Disease and viewers saw the effect of the disease, such as memory loss and leaving granddaughter Chloe at a zoo. Also, popular characters Michelle Corrigan and Ruth Pearce left the show, with Michelle joining the army and Ruth moved to Boston in the United States. 2010 also saw the return of Dr Joe Fenton, who left in 2008, who was instrumental in persuading Ruth to move to America.
In 2011, Black Country receptionist Karen Hollins fell pregnant and had an abortion, which saw a breakdown in her relationship with husband Rob and their separation. Affected by the split, Imogen started shoplifting and ended up in court to receive a community service order, which didn't please Rob. 2011 also saw the arrival of trainee GPs Kevin Tyler & Freya Wilson and the murder of temporary receptionist Lauren Porter by Dr Harrison Kellor, who tried to frame Kevin and then try to kill Jack Hollins to prevent him from revealing the truth. Dr Elaine Cassidy suffered from guilt because she introduced Harrison to Lauren.
In 2012, Dr Heston Carter embarked on a relationship with health visitor Marina Bonnaire, which saw Heston subjected to domestic abuse. After suffering from the abuse and his break up with Marina, he attacked a burglar and ended up in court. Dr Zara Carmichael and Dr Daniel Granger had a baby, Joe. After meeting new boyfriend Martin and ending up in a car crash, practice manager Julia left to be with him. Kevin's girlfriend Michaela accidentally set fire to her house, causing an explosion. Fortunately, Freya was there to call the fire brigade and saved Michaela but realised that Kevin was still in the house. She then went back to rescue him but was injured in the process and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital, leaving a distraught partner, practice nurse Mandy Marquez. Howard Bellamy arrives to replace Julia and Elaine quits due to her stress and anxiety over Harrison. Zara and Daniel decide to separate after she finds out about his affair with Cherry, the practice nurse and wife of Dr Jimmi Clay. Cherry then leaves in shame after the affair is revealed to Jimmi and the rest of the practice. Kevin is contacted by his long-lost half sister, only to realise that she and her brother need him for a bone marrow transplant to save their father's life. New doctor Al Haskey joins the team, replacing Elaine. Daniel struggles with severe post-natal depression after Zara leaves with their son.
2013 introduced doctor Emma Reid and her son, Chris, who became a nurse at The Mill. Subsequently, Emma's husband, Sam, was introduced. Sam, left crippled by a cycling accident several years prior, becomes suicidal and ultimately, with Chris's help, overdoses on painkillers and dies in his sleep. Later, Daniel is reunited with Zara and rekindle their relationship, albeit after much counselling. Head receptionist Mrs Tembe also gains a new love interest – Gordon Clement, the vicar of her parish church. However, he leaves her after it is revealed that she destroyed her ex-husband's life and then fled from Botswana, telling everyone that he was dead, whereas in fact she had been humiliated upon discovering his homosexuality. In August/September 2013, Jas was harassed by an obsessive stalker while Emma and Heston, in need of some excitement, began working for the local press as food critics before inadvertently alienating their colleagues because of it. Al, smitten by Jas, in a misguided attempt to protect her, was discovered in his car watching Jas at home and was reprimanded for inappropriate behaviour. Jas left the surgery in October due to the stresses of her ordeal.
In 2014 Karen was involved in a car accident, in which her husband Rob knocked her over in a car park. She suffered severe head trauma and as a result lost all of her memories from the age of 18 onwards. She spent the following months trying to readjust knowing that she has two adult children and a husband. Meanwhile, Chris Reid becomes dissatisfied with his work and leaves for Australia. Karen falls in love with Rob all over again and the two begin to return to normality. New doctor Niamh Donoghue causes a stir with Al and after much drama they eventually go out on a date. 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 feisty and bolshy new nurse, Ayesha Lee, who initially manages to rub everyone up the wrong way.
For the series' 3000 episode a special storyline was created centering on a number of the main characters, most specifically Sgt. Rob Hollins. The storyline was called Treehouse and was based on a paedophile ring operating in Letherbridge. We find out a lot about Rob as person, because when he was younger he threw a full bottle of beer over the top of a motorway bridge and it hit a car, seriously injuring the driver. Andy Weston, Rob's childhood friend, took the blame, because Rob was about to enter the police force. This causes Rob to realise that he owes Andy everything. Andy then chose a life of crime which is how he eventually stumbles across Treehouse and leads to him 'informing' against it. Andy is a character who was introduced along with Detective Superintendent Noakes to help break open Treehouse. This storyline also gives DCI Lynette Driver a starring role, as she is the DCI who originally begins investigating the case. At one point Noakes suspends Driver, Hollins and Dr. Clay because he believes they are getting too involved in the case, although all three were reinstated at the end of the storyline. This storyline also brings us to the temporary departure of DCI Driver who is taking a year off to adopt a child.
Dr. Reid finds out she is pregnant with Howard's baby. Despite first being reluctant to keep the baby, she makes the decision to keep it and try again with Howard. However, a couple of weeks later, Emma suffers pains. She then finds out she has miscarried and Howard goes for a walk to get them both a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, on the way there, Howard collapses and dies suddenly. Following his death, Mrs Tembe takes over temporarily as Acting Practice Manager and Valerie Pitman returns as temporary receptionist.
In January 2016 Anthony Harker starts as the new practice manager and instantly dislikes Mrs Tembe and starts targeting and bullying her. Mrs Tembe is later bullied out of her job and leaves to work at the Kings Green Surgery in February 2016. In March 2016, Niamh Donoghue meets a man called Ben, who has a critically sick little boy called Harry, so she helps Ben take Harry to Switzerland for treatment, despite Al and Harry's doctors refusal. Upon her return to the Mill, Niamh is sacked by Anthony and she returns to Ireland.
Harker's autocratic 'divide and rule' management style then targets Dr Jimmi Clay. Jimmi and Mrs Tembe uncover a plot to take over The Mill, for which Harker is receiving a backhander. Together with Daniel, they confront Harker and dismiss him. Mrs Tembe is offered the position of Practice Manager, which she accepts and returns to The Mill. Valerie becomes a permanent member of staff.
Dr Sid Vere is assigned to the practice as part of his medical training. Although he prefers Heston as his mentor, he is allocated Zara, who preys upon his insecurities and bullies him. Eventually Sid leaves The Mill and launches an action against Zara for bullying in the workplace. The practice settles the dispute by forcing Zara into a humiliating climbdown and apology. Several months later, a newly qualified Sid returns to The Mill and takes up a position as a GP. Sid and Zara finally resolve their differences.
The practice appoints a new midwife, Ruhma Hanif. Ruhma and Heston find each other intolerable but eventually discover that they are attracted to each other. A homeless Ruhma and her teenage children are invited to move in by Heston.
Earlier episodes included a noticeably smaller ensemble cast, with episodes more self-contained. However, with an increase number of episodes, the cast has increased with a shift to include continuing storylines. The initial lead star of the soap was Christopher Timothy, starring as a Mac McGuire. On 26 May 2006, after six years in the role, Timothy left the show, being the last original cast member. The longest serving character Julia Parsons, played by Diane Keen, confirmed her departure from the show after more than nine years in April 2012, leaving on 18 May 2012. After this Adrian Lewis Morgan who plays Jimmi Clay became longest serving character. Morgan previously made guest appearances in the early 2000s but has played the role of Jimmi continuously since September 2005. In addition to the staff of the practice, the show has expanded to include their families, such as Georgina Woodson's (Stirling Gallacher) husband solicitor Ronnie Woodson (Seán Gleeson) and baby daughter Bracken, who appeared in the show over seven years between 2003 and 2009.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||26 March 2000||19 May 2000||41|
|2||2 October 2000||1 June 2001||116|
|3||3 September 2001||22 May 2002||129|
|4||2 September 2002||25 November 2002||60|
|5||6 January 2003||19 March 2004||229|
|6||5 April 2004||6 April 2005||186|
|7||18 April 2005||13 April 2006||185|
|8||24 April 2006||13 April 2007||185|
|9||23 April 2007||20 March 2008||212|
|10||31 March 2008||27 March 2009||223|
|11||30 March 2009||30 March 2010||234|
|12||1 April 2010||1 April 2011||230|
|13||31 March 2011||30 March 2012||231|
|14||2 April 2012||28 March 2013||221|
|15||2 April 2013||31 March 2014||222|
|16||1 April 2014||27 March 2015||219|
|17||13 April 2015||1 April 2016||217|
|18||4 April 2016||14 April 2017||187|
|19||17 April 2017||Autumn 2018||289|
- In 2006, the highest peak episode was when All Creatures Great and Small star Christopher Timothy, who played Dr Brendan "Mac" McGuire, left the soap.
- In 2009, the episode which reached the highest ratings ever in Doctors history was "Restraint", which was aired on Tuesday, 31 March, and saw Ruth Pearce admitted to "The Beeches" after developing a mental obsession over colleague and friend, Michelle Corrigan. 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 Dr. Lily Hassan's marriage proposal to Dr. Heston Carter turned down by him.
- In 2010, there was a slight increase in ratings on 2009. The episode which peaked 3.7 million was the last in the year. Aired on 17 December 2010 the episode titled "These Boots" saw the departure of receptionist Ruth Pearce and the dramatic scenes of Dr Simon Bond having to have his stomach pumped by colleagues; Dr Zara Carmichael and Dr Daniel Granger. The previous episode aired on 16 December peaked viewers of 3.5 million to see Receptionist Karen Hollins receive news about her unexpected pregnancy.
- The highest 2011 rating, so far, is 2.5 million on 31 January, witnessing Karen Hollins make a decision on her unwanted pregnancy.
- 2011's highest rating came on Thursday 15 December, which saw the return of Ag Penrose, Rob's auntie; just over three million viewers watched Lynda Baron return.
- In 2012, the episode aired on 13 February, which saw the birth of Joe Carmichael was watched by 2.37 million. The day after, 2.09 million tuned in to see Cherry marry Jimmi.
- In 2014, episodes in January reached 1.7 million, with a peak of 1.8 million on 23rd. On 12 February, the highest rating of the year of 1.94m was achieved.
Awards and nominations
The show has been nominated for and won a variety of different awards. As of January 2017, Doctors has been nominated for 227 awards and of those nominations has won 26.
- Carson Black. IMDb. Retrieved 20 August 2013
- "Doctors" (2000) – Episode list. IMDb.[dubious ]
- Katharine Way. "BBC Blogs – BBC Writersroom – Writing for Doctors – 'The Heart of England'". BBC Writersroom. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- Walker, Danny (3 June 2016). "BBC Doctors taken off air and fans are outraged". Daily Mirror.
- "Doctors on RTÉ Player". RTÉ Publishing. Retrieved 25 November 2012.[dead link]
- Kempton, Martin. "The rest of Britain – today (more or less)". TV Studio History personal website. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012.[dubious ]
- Pebble Mill at One (TV Series 1973–1996) – IMDb[dubious ]
- "BBC One – Doctors, Series 17, The Heart of England". BBC. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "BBC One – Doctors, Series 17, Resilience". BBC. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- Doctors (TV Series 2000– ) – IMDb[dubious ]
- Kilkelly, Daniel. "Doctors guest role for Hollyoaks actor Neil Newbon". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- Kilkelly, Daniel. "Coronation Street: Tina's big decision brings in 8m on Wednesday". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 16 February 2014.