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Emergency - Ward 10 (1957-67)

Courtesy of Granada International

Main image of Emergency - Ward 10 (1957-67)
ATV Network Production for ITV, 19/2/1957 - 27/6/1967 twice weekly. London region followed same tx. dates until 23/09/1966, then extended weekly episodes from 1/10-31/12/1966 and 8/1-2/7/1967
Created byTessa Diamond
Producers includeAntony Kearey
 Rex Firkin
 Hugh Rennie

Rosemary Miller (Nurse Pat Roberts); Jill Browne (Nurse Carole Young); Glyn Owen (Dr Patrick O'Meara); Charles Tingwell (Dr Alan Dawson); Frederick Bartman (Simon Forrester); Elizabeth Kentish (Sister Cowley)

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The lives and loves of the staff of Oxbridge General Hospital.

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Emergency - Ward 10 (ITV, 1957-67) started life as a six week filler, Calling Nurse Roberts, but went on to become one of the best-loved programmes of its era, attracting 24 million viewers at its peak. The twice-weekly medical soap, which notched up 966 30 minute episodes and 50 one hour instalments, also helped define its genre.

Set in the fictitious Oxbridge General Hospital, the programme focused equally on the lives and loves of its medical staff and the pressure of their work. This simple prescription provided the show with a twin approach to storytelling that was endlessly reworked over its 10-year run. And although it restricted itself to just five patient deaths a year, its core formula has proved remarkably robust - modern medical series still follow its basic blueprint: the quiet heroics of doctors and nurses as they battle for their patients' lives while trying to maintain a normal life away from the turbulence of their jobs.

Emergency - Ward 10 was the creation of ATV continuity writer Tessa Diamond, who had previously had her ideas for series turned down by the broadcaster. Within a year of the show's launch the adventures of the staff at Oxbridge General Hospital transferred to the big screen in a full-length feature film, Life in Emergency Ward 10 (d. Robert Day, 1958). The show also launched a brief spin-off series, Call Oxbridge 2000 (ITV, 1961-62).

Despite the show's general observance of real medical procedure, it sometimes cast it aside in the pursuit of a storyline. For example, it's hard to believe that a real nurse would be put on night shifts so she could avoid touching patients because any encounter with antiseptics or drugs produces a rash on her hands.

The show courted controversy in 1964 with its portrayal of an interracial relationship between surgeon Louise Mahler (Joan Hooley) and Doctor Giles Farmer (John White). A love scene between the two was cut because it was considered "a little too suggestive".

Over its ten-year run the series play host to a raft of familiar faces including Ian Hendry, Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney as patients, and John Alderton, Ray Barrett and Paul Darrow among its medical staff. But no amount of medical heroics could save it from falling ratings - Emergency - Ward 10 was closed in 1967 by ATV head Lew Grade, a move he later admitted was wrong.

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
1. Going private (1:04)
2. Keeping discipline (4:57)
3. Under observation (1:28)
Complete episode (24:26)
Production stills
Byron, Kathleen (1923-2009)
Lim, Pik-Sen (c. 1944- )
Morahan, Christopher (1929-)
Morgan, Diana (1908-1996)
Medical Drama
Soap Opera