The Young Doctors
|The Young Doctors|
|Created by||Alan Coleman|
|Directed by||Alan Coleman
David C. Wilson
|Starring||(see detailed cast and character list below)|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||1,396|
|Location(s)||TCN-9 Willoughby, New South Wales|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Reg Grundy Organisation|
|Original network||Nine Network|
|Picture format||4.3 PAL|
|Original release||8 November 1976– 30 March 1983|
The Young Doctors was an Australian early evening soap opera. The series was set in the fictional Albert Memorial hospital and primarily concerned with romances between younger members of the hospital staff, rather than typical medical issues and procedures. It screened on the Nine Network from Monday, 8 November 1976 until Wednesday, 30 March 1983. The program was shown in numerous international locations, particularly throughout the United Kingdom, North America and also in France and Spain.
The series was created and produced by the FremantleMedia (then known as The Reg Grundy Organization) and started a week earlier than the Nine Networks sister soap opera, by Crawford Productions The Sullivans. Channel 9 made it clear only one of the series would be kept after 13 weeks.
After the 13-week trial period The Sullivans (which had a budget which was three times bigger than The Young Doctors) emerged as the critical success, which resulted in The Young Doctors being axed. Fans of The Young Doctors lobbied Channel 9, who reversed their decision. The Young Doctors was placed at the 18:00 "graveyard" timeslot, which had a successful run. After several years, many long running characters left the series and in the final series several new cast members were added. Producer and creator Alan Coleman left, and was replaced by Sue Masters shortly before the series finished production in late 1982. Masters immediately went on to produce Grundy's stablemate Prisoner from 1983, along with several cast members, including Judy McBurney, Genevieve Lemon, Babs McMillan and Peter Bensley who had all been recruited for leading roles in Prisoner after The Young Doctors finished.
The advent of one-day cricket led to Channel 9 moving the show around the schedules. These factors contributed to a decline in ratings which saw the series cancelled in late 1982. The final episode was aired in March 1983.
When the series ended after 1396 episodes, it held the record of Australia's longest-running commercial television drama series, which was previously held by Number 96. This was later surpassed by A Country Practice and then Neighbours, which is the current record-holder of any longest-running Australian series.
The Young Doctors also holds the distinction, rare among long-running Australian dramas, of having never won any sort of television award. Actress Peta Toppano who appeared in early seasons of Prisoner had also previously appeared in The Young Doctors. One of the more popular cast members included Gwen Plumb, a recipient of the British Empire Medal and AM recipient for her service to the arts and communities service, who portrayed kiosk gossip character Ada Simmonds for the length of the series. The original cast members Lyn James who portrayed the doctors receptionist Helen Gordon and Tim Page who portrays Dr. Grahame Steele, appeared to the end of the series, as did Judy McBurney as Nurse Tania Livingstone
The relatively long-running serial also achieved modest international cult success, particularly in the United Kingdom, where it aired in a daytime slot on the commercial ITV network. The programme was shown regionally, meaning each region was free the show the series as and when they liked.
Story and setting
Despite the medical setting, medical procedures rarely figured in storylines, with most of the stories and plots focusing more on the personal life and romances of the staff. The local Club Bunnys was another venue for the staff to mingle.
The programme was acquired by 13 of the 14 weekday members of the ITV Network, Scottish Television never purchased the series. Most of the ITV regions initially screened The Young Doctors at their own regional pace in their 15:30 slot on Mondays and Tuesdays with Sons and Daughters on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
- Central Television pioneered the programme in their Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 slot from 6 October 1982 (but it was quickly moved to the afternoon 15:45 slot) while all the other ITV contractors were screening The Sullivans. This was then increased to a daily 15:30 slot until Sons and Daughters began in February 1983 and The Young Doctors shared the slot airing on Mondays and Tuesdays. This continued until 1988 when Central returned the programme to 12:35 to allow Sons and Daughters to be stripped Monday to Friday in the 15:30 slot. Following the end of Sons and Daughters in December 1988, from January 1989, The Young Doctors returned to 15:30, Monday to Friday until Families began in April 1990, which took the Monday and Tuesday 15:30 slot. The Young Doctors was finally moved to 14:50, Monday to Thursday in 1990, and finished 15 August 1992. Central was the first region to complete the series.
- HTV started the series on Tuesday, 4 January 1983 and screened the series regularly on Mondays and Tuesdays, finishing on 18 April 1994.
- Granada Television and Border Television switched the broadcast pattern around, and screened The Young Doctors on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays instead, finishing at Easter 1993 at 3.20pm.
- Anglia Television started on 3 September 1984, going out Mondays and Tuesdays at 15:30 until 17 April 1990, then changed to Wednesdays and Thursdays from 25 April 1990. It was then moved to Thursdays and Fridays from Friday 6 July 1990 and an additional Wednesday episode returns in January 1991. Then Mondays to Fridays from January 1992 and finally, Thursdays and Fridays at 13.55 until Friday, 2 June 1995.
- Thames Television and LWT in London started screening the series initially at 17:15 on Thursdays and Fridays from 23 June 1983 until 1 September 1984, before switching the series to 15:30 slot, to allow Blockbusters the slot. From this point onwards, only Thames broadcast the series. When Carlton Television took over in January 1993, the series was dropped for 6 months to allow backlog of Blockbusters episodes to be aired, The Young Doctors returned daily on 7 June 1993 concluding the programme as an 80minute special from 13:55 on Friday 30 December 1994.
- TSW Started the series on 1 April 1985, Monday and Fridays at 17:15 until 8 July, when it was moved to 15.30 slot. On 17 October 1988, the series moves to 12:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays but due to network programming resulted in the series becoming weekly during 1989/1990, but returned to twice a week by the end 1990. Westcountry Television took over in 1993, and continued twice a week until early 1994 when it was increased to three times a week until 20 December 1995 when episode 1101 was broadcast. The series was never completed, even though Westcountry were the last region to still be showing it.
- Years after most of the other regions Yorkshire Television started the series in October 1988, going out five times a week. In January 1993, they had to skip 215 episodes to enable them to catch up to Tyne Tees Television, as from January 1993, both regions screened exactly the same material. It aired daily at 15:20, until January 1994 when the Friday episode was dropped until the series ended on Thursday 15 December 1994.
- Grampian Television started on Monday, 14 November 1983, increased to 4 episode per week by 1991, and finished Friday, 30 September 1994.
- The Young Doctors was also aired on Sky Channel from Monday, 6 February 1989. It originally transmitted at 17:00, and from July 1989 when the channel relaunced as Sky One, The Young Doctors aired regularly at 10:00. When Sky purchased the newer Australian soap E Street in April 1992, they eventually cancelled The Young Doctors after around 600 episodes in July to accommodate an afternoon repeat of the American medical series St Elsewhere.
- The show was aired on RTÉ Two.
- It was named Los Jovenes Doctores which had a brief stint on TVE1 shortly after the launch of Morning television in Spain. The series aired for a short while in a 09:30 weekday slot.
- Jeunes Docteurs Pour La Vie (Young Doctors For Life) aired on France second national-wide channel Antenne 2 at 08:30 am, from 21 March 1986 until February 1988 (replaced by American daytime soap opera "LOVING").
The Series was also broadcast in Trinidad, Barbados, Angola, the Netherlands and Canada.
In November 2007, the Nine Network announced plans to remake the series in conjunction with FremantleMedia. Originally, it was set to be broadcast in 2008 but due to script delays, the premiere date had been pushed back to 2009. The remake was set to be named Young Doctors (minus "The"). However, at the end of 2008, the Nine Network officially passed on the idea. The network decided against the remake, instead, confirming a second series of the popular Australian drama Underbelly. FremantleMedia is currently searching for another television station to contract the programme.
Selected episodes of the serial were released on DVD in October 2006, under the title of The Best Romances. A second set of selected episodes, under the title of Classic Cliffhangers, was released in February 2008. In 1994, prior to the DVDs, a VHS was edited in the UK by "NTV entertainment" collecting episodes A, B (pilots) & 1.
- The Young Doctors at the Internet Movie Database
- The Young Doctors at TV.com
- Aussie Soap Archive: The Young Doctors — Overview and Review
- Classic Aussie Soaps: The Young Doctors
- The Young Doctors Unofficial Fan Site
- Documentary celebrating 30 year anniversary, with cast interviews
- The Young Doctors at the National Film and Sound Archive