24 years ago today British TV viewers were introduced to Casualty, a drama based on the staff and patients at Holby City Hospital.
24 years, 1 spin-off, 1 spin-off of a spin-off, 4 dodgy spin-off mash-ups, 3 early-20th Century period-drama derivatives and an incessant telephone ringing sound-effect later (seriously, will someone PLEASE pick up that bloody phone) Casualty is still very popular.
While the US has made snazzy, sexy, lupus-filled medical dramas in that time like ER, Grey’s Anatomy and House, Casualty has (to its merit) stayed quite imperfect and British. It’s also been an important vertex on the Bit-Part Parallelogram (All bit-part actors worth their salt have made at least one appearance in each of Casualty, Doctors, Holby City & The Bill).
I bet the weekly goings on would seem crazy if it were a real hospital…
Casualty: An Unseen Dialogue
Setting: Holby City Hospital, male toilet (int.), Early September.
Charlie Fairhead is washing his hands. New doctor, Kenzie, enters.
Kenzie: Hey. Everything okay with you?
Charlie: Yeah, all ship shaped and Holby* fashioned.
Kenzie: What a day, eh? Who could have possibly predicted an HGV crashing on the High Street?
Charlie: And one of our own paramedics being caught in the smash-up.
Kenzie: You couldn’t make it up could you?
Charlie: Hmm, thing is this stuff tends to happen quite often around here.
Charlie: Oh yes. And your arrival too…It’s like clockwork.
Kenzie: I’m sorry?
Charlie: Same time every year. Basically, every September somebody new arrives…a new inexperienced doctor or a timid receptionist. Without fail, on their first day there’s always some kind of major incident in the Holby area.
Kenzie: Like the lorry jackknifing on the High Street?
Charlie: Yeah, stuff like that. Tanker explosion, train crash, spree shooting. I don’t know what it is about September that makes people so vengeful and/or careless round here.
Kenzie: Jeepers. That must be pretty stressful.
Charlie: Not really. You see, usually something really stressful happens in July that puts the lives one of our colleagues or relatives in danger but after that it’s pretty much dead here for a few weeks. Nothing ever happens in August. Then it’s all systems go in September. You’ll get used to it.
Kenzie: Hmm…We never used to get this at my old training hospital in Glasgow.
A man enters
Man: Excuse me…
Charlie: What is it now?
Man: Sorry to interrupt…I’m gonna need some help.
Kenzie: What’s the problem?
Man: Well, I was in the bath and somehow managed to slip and fall onto a…
Charlie: Take it to the NHS Walk in Centre on the main road, mate.
Charlie: I thought it was a lorry crash.
Kenzie: No, it started as a lorry crash, then a load of buildings collapsed…Including the NHS Walk-In Centre unfortunately. Sorry pal.
Man: [sighs] Damn. It never rains, but it pours.
Charlie: Tell me about it!
*In the Casualty/Holby City universe, Bristol doesn’t exist and has been entirely replaced by Holby.
So happy birthday, Casualty. Here’s to another 24 years of former Brookside actors falling over.
Review: After 24 years, people still burn their hands on oven trays and that’s great television.