Emergency Ward 10 on DVD

Sunday, 30 March 2008 12:47

Pre-dating television favourites Casualty and Holby City by decades, Emergency - Ward 10 was Britain's first medical soap opera. Initially thought of (much like Coronation Street) as a filler programme, the twice-weekly serial rapidly became a favourite with the nation's viewing public. Between 1957 and 1967 it regularly pulled in audiences in excess of 15 million and spawned two spin-off programmes and a feature-film adaptation. And now, Network DVD takes us back to that era with the release of a couple of dozen selected episodes on DVD.

Emergency Ward 10 on DVDSet in the fictitious Oxbridge General Hospital, Emergency - Ward 10 concentrated as much on the private lives of the staff as it did on their jobs, setting the template for today's modern medical soaps. It also introduced the viewers to medical procedures, earning praise from the British Medical Council for helping to allay the public’s fears of hospitals.


High in dramatic content, the series had a low mortality rate (patient deaths were strictly limited to five per year) and made stars out of the doctors, nurses and indeed patients who walked the wards. This series, in common with many from the 1950s and 1960s, no longer exists in its entirety; included in this four DVD set are 24 of the earliest surviving episodes from 1959 and 1960.


Filmed live, they play more like theatrical plays than the more modern-day pre-filmed medical dramas. However, as we know from such ‘live’ performances, they do give the action an edge and a feeling that the performers are on the equivalent of a high wire, precariously moving through the action. Watch out for John Barron (eventually to be CJ in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin) and Charles Tingwell (Dr Fawn and numerous other voices in Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons).



Desmond Carrington as Chris Anderson

Barbara Clegg as Jo Buckley

Frederick Bartman as Simon Forrester

Charles Tingwell as Alan Dawson

Peter Howell as Peter Harrison

Jill Browne as Carole Young

John Barron as Harold de la Roux

Robert MacLeod as Dr Whittaker

Jane Downs as Audrey Blake




247 - 30 June 1959

Dr Latimer is unhappy about ejecting a harmless tramp onto the street, but his attention is diverted by the victim of a horse-riding accident. Dr Harrison, freshly returning from America, is thrown in at the deep end when he’s assigned a prickly coach crash victim who has lost the use of her arm.


254 - 24 July 1959

Examination results are due and the nurses are in a raucous mood when the postman is late. Jo becomes frantic when the letter carrying her results doesn’t arrive with the others. A group of National Hospital Service Reserve volunteers arrive to assist with ward duty.


255 – 28 July 1959

McAlpine has to deal with a newly pregnant woman who is recovering from tuberculosis. He’s also distracted by the imminent arrival of Harold de la Roux – a new broom expecting to sweep clean! Jo’s engagement ring is still missing.


260 - 14 August 1959

It’s the day before the wedding and, whilst Jo is taking things calmly, Chris seems determined to enjoy the last day of his bachelorhood. That is, until he manages to lose the wedding ring …


261 - 18 August 1959

The identity of the mystery victim is revealed when he confesses all to Sergeant Horner. The patients and staff become concerned with his wellbeing when he displays suicidal tendencies.


262 - 21 August 1959

Alan is sued for £200 damages by the man he injured in a scooter accident, and he’s advised to counter-sue in response. Peter becomes jealous when Mary goes out for a meal with Harold de la Roux, and their relationship comes to a turning point.


263 – 25 August 1959

Mary is upset at Peter’s apparent uncaring behaviour but she begins to understand when he confesses that he still hasn’t got over Sally’s death. Dr Forrester tries to diagnose the cause of Mrs Hill’s personality-changing attacks.


265 – 1 September 1959

Mrs Hill continues to suffer from recurrent attacks of selective delusions; although there are no physical indicators, the doctors have an idea. De la Roux offers Chris a golden opportunity to join his staff.


266 – 4 September 1959

Peter has a personal stake in a new case when a heavily pregnant woman diagnosed with polio turns out to be the wife of a good friend. Chris is concerned for his potential position as new Houseman to de la Roux.


268 – 11 September 1959

Wendy’s health takes a downturn when she becomes feverish and Peter is concerned for the health of her baby. Mrs Hill’s pancreatic operation is imminent, but she’s worried about the speed with which she’s being rushed to theatre.


269 – 15 September 1959

Simon believes that Mrs Gibson is suffering from arsenical poisoning – a diagnosis which shocks John Rennie when it is confirmed by the lab. Jo gets annoyed with Chris when de la Roux insists that he stay to witness a paediatric operation on his night off.


270 – 18 September 1959

Mrs Garland stuns her husband when she confesses that he’s not the father of her baby. Chris and Simon are highly amused when Alan takes out Sue for a meal only to be bushwhacked by another girlfriend, freshly arrived from France!


385 – 25 October 1960

Alan is gearing up for his impending marriage but is sidetracked into interviewing prospective new receptionists, one of whom is far too predatory for his liking! Peter has to deal with a slightly hysterical patient who realises that she won’t be out of hospital in time for Christmas.


386 – 28 October 1960

Eileen is put under anaesthetic to undergo exploratory surgery in order to find the cause of her peritonitis. Mr Barrow’s temper gets the better of him and he takes it out on the nursing staff.


387 – 1 November 1960

John tries to put Anne Carson’s mind at rest when she tells him that her physiotherapy is a waste of time. Alan has to deal with an awkward patient whose lung has partially collapsed. Halloween hi-jinks run high amongst the medical staff.


388 – 4 November 1960

John tries to deal with Mrs Barrow – a woman deep in debt, who hasn’t yet told her husband, a man with a fearsome temper. Alan has to contend with a rich, elderly female patient whose hobby seems to be collecting doctors!


389 – 8 November 1960

Mrs Crane is still vague, and more worried about her cat’s welfare than her own. Alan is concerned when Tom Barrow refuses convalescence in the aftermath of his treatment and he takes Mary to task over it.


390 – 11 November 1960

Peter’s so impressed with Anne’s progress that he wants to try to get her out of bed, but she’s afraid of the idea. Mrs Crane is diagnosed as suffering from pernicious anaemia and gives Dr Whittaker a hard time.


392 – 18 November 1960

Brownie takes advantage of Potter’s good nature and borrows £2.00 from him to pay off her debts. Peter badgers Whittaker about his concerns regarding the lack of soundproofing in the new wing.


393 – 22 November 1960

Brownie, recovering from her oesophageal haemorrhage, is making a nuisance of herself with the staff. The new wing for the hospital is progressing nicely but Dr Whittaker is concerned over last minute changes in ward allocation.


394 – 25 November 1960

While Audrey is being fattened up by her Aunt for the wedding ahead, Alan is suffering from the previous night’s excesses. Then Audrey gets a shock when she finds her father is too ill to give her away at the altar.


396 – 2 December 1960

John’s shift is disrupted when he discovers that his comatose patient holds a key Government Defence position. Dr O’Meara has retuned from a spell with the World Health Organisation to visit his old colleagues.


397 – 6 December 1960

Recovering from her operation, Brownie tries to persuade Joan to smuggle gin into the ward for her. Plans proceed apace for the staff Christmas concert, but the calibre of signing is sadly lacking.


399 – 13 December 1960

John has to tell an expectant mother with bronchitis that she’s also suffering from heart failure due to a childhood bout of rheumatic fever. Don Nolan, an Australian, joins the team as the new Casualty Officer.


Emergency - Ward 10 – Volume One is a four DVD set with a running time of approx 600 minutes, and has a recommended retail price of £39.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

Thanks to Cult TV and Network DVD, you had the opportunity to put one of two copies available to win on to your mantelpiece, in our prize competition. All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Which star of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin can you find appearing on this release of Emergency – Ward 10? The answer was John Barron, and the winners were Simon Sims of Stourbridge, West Midlands, and Rebecca Lis of Torquay, Devon.  Well done both, and thanks to everyone who entered!

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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