Doctors (TV series)
The current opening title sequence of Doctors as of 23 November 2009.
|Genre||Medical soap opera|
|Created by||Chris Murray|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||3073 (as of 27 November 2015)|
(currently Mike Hobson)
|Camera setup||Video, Multiple-camera setup|
|Running time||30 minutes (with occasional longer episodes from 35–60 minutes)|
|Original network||BBC One (2000–present)
BBC HD (2009–2013)
BBC One HD (2010–present)
BBC Two (Episode 2943, 2978)
|Picture format||16:9 576i (2000–present)
16:9 1080i (2009–present)
|Original release||26 March 2000– present|
Doctors is a British medical soap opera which first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 26 March 2000. Set in the fictional Midlands town of Letherbridge, defined as being in the city of Birmingham, the soap follows the staff and their families of a doctor's surgery.
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 September 11th 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, over Christmas and Easter period and for bank holidays.
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.
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 2 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 (1973–1986) /Pebble Mill (1991–1996). 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 is introduced as the head partner at a general practice, The Riverside Surgery, in the Midlands town of Letherbridge with his 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.
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. Also, 2009 saw the departure of long-standing major characters Ronnie, George and Bracken Woodson.
In the soap's anniversary year in 2010, the longest standing character, 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 USA. 2010 also saw the return of Dr. Joe Fenton, who left in 2008 and persuaded 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 murder of temporary receptionist Lauren Porter by Dr. Harrison Kellor, who tried to frame trainee GP Kevin Tyler 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. 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. 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 Dr. 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, her husband Sam and their son, Chris. 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. 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 their country, telling everyone that he was dead. 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. Jas left the surgery in October due to the stresses of her ordeal.
In 2014 Karen was involved in a car accident. She suffered severe head trauma and as a result lost all of her memories from the age of eighteen onward. She spent the following months trying to readjust knowing that she has two adult children and a husband. Meanwhile, Chris becomes dissatisfied with his work and leaves for Australia. Karen falls in love with him all over again and the two begin to return to normality. New doctor Dr. Niamh Donoghugh causes a stir with Al and after much drama they eventually go out on a date. Currently, Heston is struggling with memory loss and undergoes several tests designed to determine whether he is suffering from early-onset dementia.
For the series' 3000 episode a special storyline was created centering on a number of the main characters most specifically Rob who is a Police Sergeant. 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 as 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. Unfortunately, on the way there, Howard collapses and dies. Following his death, Mrs Tembe takes over temporarily and Valerie Pitman returns as temporary receptionist.
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. In mid-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. In addition to the staff of the practice, the show has expanded to include their families, such as Georgina Woodson (Stirling Gallacher) husband solicitor Ronnie Woodson (Seán Gleeson) and baby daughter Bracken, who appeared in the show over seven years 2003-09.
|Series||Average Ratings||Peak Ratings|
|3||2002||1.0 million||1.3 million|
|4||2003||1.2 million||1.3 million|
|5||2004||1.4 million||1.5 million|
|6||2005||1.6 million||1.8 million|
|7||2006||1.7 million||2.2 million|
|8||2007||2.5 million||2.7 million|
|9||2008||2.8 million||3.1 million|
|10||2009||2.9 million||3.6 million|
|11||2010||3.1 million||3.7 million|
|12||2011||2.3 million||3.1 million|
|13||2012||2.1 million||2.6 million|
Source: BBC Birmingham
- 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 November 2015, Doctors has been nominated for 195 awards and has won 23.
In popular culture
In 2011 British anti-folk artists, the Ranters, released the album: Wine, Women & Kebabs, which included the song: "Doctors is the Best Show on Television".
- 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.
- "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.[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.
- Goodson, Edward. "The Ranters: Wine, Women & Kebabs". Bandcamp. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Doctors at BBC Programmes
- Doctors at the Internet Movie Database
- Doctors at TV.com
- BBC Doctors celebrate 1000 episodes