General Hospital (British TV series)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|Running time||30 minutes (Series 1)|
60 Minutes (Series 2–6)
|Production company(s)||Associated Television|
|Original release||19 October 1972 –|
26 January 1979
General Hospital is a British daytime soap opera produced by ATV that ran on ITV from 1972 to 1979. It was not modelled after the American drama of the same name. Rather, it was an attempt to replicate the success of its predecessor, Emergency – Ward 10. The original theme music was "Girl in the White Dress" by the Derek Scott Orchestra which was used until 1975, when it was replaced by Johnny Pearson's "Red Alert" for the 60-minute episodes.
In 1972, ITV started to broadcast programmes on weekday afternoons, triggering a new wave of productions to fill in the extended schedules. Among the first of these shows, which were aimed at giving advertisers access to housewives, were the long-running rural soap Emmerdale Farm (YTV) and the twice-weekly medical drama General Hospital.
Set in a fictional Midlands town, the series followed the romantic and professional lives of its doctors and nurses. While the location and the characters names had been changed, in most other respects General Hospital was almost identical to its predecessor, Emergency – Ward 10, a deliberate attempt to recreate its success.
In 1975, after 270 twice-weekly episodes, General Hospital was given a prime time slot on Friday evening. The move saw the episode lengths double from 30 to 60 minutes, with each episode being more self-contained, while on-screen medical procedures, including detailed scenes of surgery, became more prominent.
Amongst the regular cast of the series was actor Tony Adams who played Doctor Neville Bywaters; he also appeared as Adam Chance in Crossroads. Among the other familiar faces to appear was Lynda Bellingham, who gained national fame as the mother in a series of commercials for Oxo stock cubes, and later as Helen Herriot in the series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the books by James Herriot. Other notable regulars included Carmen Munroe, who was also a regular presenter in the Play School children's programme team; and a young Sally Knyvette, who went on to appear in Blake's 7 and Emmerdale Farm.
By 1979, the "homely" feel of General Hospital was considered to be old-fashioned in the wake of newer, grittier dramas, and it was cancelled. Many episodes are missing from television archives.
- Lewis Jones as Mr William Parker-Brown
- David Garth as Dr Matthew Armstrong
- James Kerry as Dr. Martin Baxter
- Ian White as Dr Peter Ridge
- Lynda Bellingham as Nurse Hilda Price
- Judy Buxton as Student Nurse Katy Shaw
- Peggy Sinclair as Sister Ellen Chapman
- Tony Adams as Dr Neville Bywaters
- Eric Lander as Richard Kirby
- Patricia Maynard as Dr. Joanna Whitworth
- Pippa Reid as Sister Doreen Holland
- John Halstead as Arnold Capper
- Monica Grey as Sister Edwards
- Jason Rose as Dr. Herbert Chipato
- Carmen Munroe as Sister Frances Washington
- Carl Rigg as Dr Gregory Knight
- Tom Adams as Mr Guy Wallman
In August 2012 a DVD of the surviving episodes from the original 270 twice-weekly version of the show was released under the banner Series 1. The DVD includes episodes 1, 2, 3*, 4, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 13*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*, 25*, 26*, 29, 32, 100, 126, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 258 (episodes marked with a "*" were made in colour but now only survive in Black and White).
A second volume containing the first prime time series was due for release in April 2013 but did not appear.