Doctors (2000 TV series)

Doctors (2000 TV series)
Doctors introduction as of 23 November 2009.
Format Drama, Soap Opera
Created by Chris Murray
Starring See list
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 2,170 [1] (10 November 2011)
Executive producer(s) Will Trotter
Running time approx. 30 mins (per episode)
Original channel BBC One (2000–present)
BBC HD (2009–present)
BBC One HD (2010–present)
Picture format 16:9 576i (2000–present)
16:9 1080i (2009–present)
Original run 26 March 2000 (2000-03-26) – present
External links

Doctors is a British daytime television soap opera, set in the fictional Midland town of Letherbridge, defined as being close to the City of Birmingham. It was created by Chris Murray; Mal Young drove its development, and Carson Black was the original producer. The first episode was broadcast on 26 March, 2000.[2] On 26 March 2010, Doctors celebrated its 10th Anniversary and 1800th episode. On 16 February 2011, Doctors aired its 2000th episode.



Doctors is produced by BBC Birmingham and is screened on BBC One and has always been shown at lunchtime, originally at 12.30 pm as a lead-in to the BBC's One O'Clock News. After it was temporarily moved to allow for extended news coverage of the September 11th 2001 attacks, its regular slot changed to 2:10 pm, following directly after Neighbours, after ratings rose to a 25% audience share. When the BBC lost Neighbours to Channel 5 (UK) in January 2008, it moved into the Australian soap's old slot of 13:45. For a brief trial period in Summer 2000, selected episodes from the first series were shown on Fridays at 7 pm.

Its storylines deal with the lives of staff and patients at the fictional Mill Health Centre and its offshoot, Letherbridge University's Campus Surgery, although earlier episodes were set at the Riverside Surgery and, later in the storyline, The Best Practice was regularly featured as well. The initial lead star of the soap was Christopher Timothy, well known due to his long-running role as James Herriot in the series All Creatures Great and Small from 1978 to 1990.[3] In Doctors, he starred as a reformed alcoholic but much respected GP, Dr Brendan 'Mac' McGuire.

In episode one, entitled "Letting Go",[2] Dr. Brendan McGuire is introduced as the head partner at a general practice, The Riverside Surgery, in the Midland town of Letherbridge with his wife Kate (Maggie Cronin) as Office Manager and a team of young doctors; Dr. Steve Rawlings (Mark Frost), Dr. Helen Thompson (Corrine Wicks), Dr. Rana Mistry (Akbar Kurtha) and Dr. Caroline Powers (Jacqueline Leonard). Dr. Mcguire is shown dealing with an elderly couple, Margaret (Patricia Greene) and her husband Derek Richmond (Brian Cant), who is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. After years of marriage she is reluctant to part with him but is persuaded by 'Mac' that he would be better cared for in a home.[2] This opening episode was indicative of the format each episode of Doctors would continue to follow: a doctor and patient storyline that would begin and conclude during one episode with a strong supporting sub-plot (often linked to the entire contract cast) that would run over the course of a number of episodes or the entire series!

Doctors was originally produced and broadcast in blocks of episodes, ranging from blocks of 40 to 130 episodes in the first three years.[4] Over time, the series' audience has developed and increased, prompting the BBC to commission Doctors as a year-round continuing series.[4] Earlier episodes included a noticeably smaller ensemble cast, and episodes were more self-contained single-episode dramas with less emphasis on continuing storylines, unlike episodes shown today. Doctors has a high cast turnover, with no original actors remaining from the first series, but the soap is also well known for including established actors in supporting or guest roles and each episode will often include a familiar famous face visiting the Mill Health Centre.

From the inception of the series until mid-2004, Doctors was filmed at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in Edgbaston, Birmingham,[5] in space originally occupied by the popular production Pebble Mill at One intermittedly between 1973 and 1986 and as simply Pebble Mill from 1991 to 1996.[6] The foyer of Pebble Mill was converted to act as a street frontage, with the Riverside Doctors' Surgery central to the area. Other sets, such as Letherbridge Police Station and The Lether Bar were constructed in redundant areas of the ageing studio complex, whilst sets for the doctors' and patients' homes were real houses filmed on location. Ironically,[says who?] only 12 months prior to the launch of Doctors, Pebble Mill's recently refurbished Studio A had been mothballed (a term given to studio closures) and the production team were unable to use any of its facilities. The eventual closure of Studio A in 2000[5] was part of the BBC's strategy to reduce studio resources and so the Doctors production team made creative use of the increasing unused space in and around the Pebble Mill site. In January 2003, the longest-serving character to date first appeared: well-known actress Diane Keen arrived as Dr. Brendan's ex-wife Julia McGuire, and this character was key to Doctors transition from the Riverside Practice to The Mill Health Centre in storylines that continued over the following year and a half. Now known as Julia Parsons, Diane Kean remains central to the fabric of the series to this day.[4]

In 2004, five years into the show's life, the BBC made the inevitable yet controversial decision to close the Pebble Mill studios, and BBC Birmingham moved to a much smaller production base in Birmingham City Centre with no studio space for a continuing drama on the scale of Doctors.[5] Therefore, the entire production team moved to the new BBC Drama Village development in Selly Oak, Birmingham,[5] and the move was marked in the soap with a spectacular explosion which destroyed the Riverside Practice at the Pebble Mill site (these episodes aired during March 2005, the fifth anniversary of the series). The Doctors moved to a new specially constructed surgery set which was aptly named The Mill Health Centre on-screen as a tribute to the series' original production home.

After six years in the role, mid-2006[7] saw Doctors original lead-character depart when Christopher Timothy decided to leave. Dr Georgina Woodson (Stirling Gallacher) and Dr Jimmi Clay (Adrian Lewis Morgan) emerged as the series' new lead stars, with Dr George's relationship and subsequent marriage to solicitor Ronnie Woodson (Seán Gleeson) becoming a particularly popular union with viewers. The couple's seven years in the serial from 2003-09[7] were marked with numerous soap-style situations, including the birth of their baby daughter Bracken. Another much loved character from this era of Doctors was cheerful Receptionist Sarah Finch, with Actress Andrea Green winning the Best Newcomer Award at the British Soap Awards in 2005.

From season five in 2002 until January 2007, Doctors took lengthy breaks in transmission over the Summer, usually for six weeks.[4] This allowed producers an opportunity to storyline a suitable cliffhanger and, over the years, these included a fatal car crash, a deadly explosion and the eventful wedding of two departing characters. Doctors still has breaks in the Summer for the Wimbledon Tennis matches held for two weeks and during the Christmas period, it ends on the last Friday before Christmas and returns on the first Monday of the following year. On Bank Holidays and over the Easter Holidays, the series usually takes a transmission break. A time-slot change occurred in January 2008 when the BBC lost Neighbours to rival network Five and Doctors was allocated the 13:45 timeslot, and, from 16 February 2009, Doctors began transmitting in High Definition on the BBC HD channel, where it is shown at the later time of 16:00.

As of 2010, Doctors enjoys audiences of up to 3 million in its 13:45 slot, and picked up two Awards at the 2010 British Soap Awards: Best Dramatic Performance for a Young Actor or Actress and Best On-screen Partnership. In March of that year, Doctors celebrated its tenth anniversary. Under the title Decade of Doctors, the BBC aired five-minute programmes about the show after each day's episode during the anniversary week.

On 16 February 2011, Doctors aired its 2,000th episode, "Quarantine" which was extended and ran for 60 minutes due to it being a special episode.

After the annual Summer recess of two weeks, Doctors returned on 4 July 2011 at the earlier time of 1:40pm on BBC one. This schedule change hasn't affected the ratings, in fact there has been a slight increase of ratings.

As of 2011, characters such as Dr Daniel Granger, Karen Hollins, Dr Zara Carmichael as well as Julia Parsons and Dr Jimmi Clay make up the main characters. Since the departure of Dr. George Woodson in 2009 and the exit of Michelle Corrigan in 2010, Zara and Karen have become well-established members of the cast.



Doctors was first shown on BBC One on 26 March 2000, and in the soap's early years main storylines would happen towards the end of the series, leaving viewers on a cliffhanger.

In 2007, when more episodes were shown and there were fewer breaks in transmission, more storylines happened. They included: receptionist Donna Parmar's breaking patient confidentiality and her sacking from the Mill (2007), Dr. Nick West's car crash and later death (2008), and receptionist Vivien March's rape in 2008, which caused a stir in the media and received recognition at The British Soap Awards in 2009. Also, 2009 saw the departure of long-standing major characters Ronnie, George and Bracken Woodson.


In the soap's anniversary year, the longest standing character, Julia Parsons suffered with Lyme Disease and viewers saw her demise, which resulted in memory loss and leaving granddaughter, Chloe at a zoo. Also, popular characters; Michelle Corrigan and Ruth Pearce left the show, Michelle went into the Army and Ruth moved to Boston in the USA. 2010 also saw the return of Dr. Joe Fenton who left in 2008, he persuaded Ruth to move to America. In late 2010, early 2011, Black Country receptionist, Karen Hollins fell pregnant and had an abortion. This resulted in Karen and Rob splitting up and Jack and Imogen distraught. It affected Imogen the most as she started shop-lifting and ended up in court, resulting in community service, which Rob wasn't too pleased about. Also in 2011 saw the murder of temporary Receptionist, Lauren Porter who was murdered by Dr. Harrison Kellor who tried to frame Trainee GP, Dr. Kevin Tyler. This also resulted in Kevin feeling uncomforatble at work and female staff members feeling uneasy in his presence and Dr Elaine Cassidy who felt guilty as she introduced Harrison to Lauren, as they were having an affair.




Series Average Ratings Peak Ratings
Year Viewers Viewers
1 2000 700,000 1.0 million
2 2001 950,000 1.2 million
3 2002 1.0 million 1.3 million
4 2003 1.2 million 1.3 million
5 2004 1.4 million 1.5 million
6 2005 1.6 million 1.8 million
7 2006 1.7 million 2.2 million
8 2007 2.5 million 2.7 million
9 2008 2.8 million 3.1 million
10 2009 2.9 million 3.6 million
11 2010 3.1 million 3.7 million

Source: BBC Birmingham

  • In 2006, the highest peak episode was when All Creatures Great and Small star, Christopher Timothy who played, Dr. Brendan 'Mac' McGuire left the soap.
  • In 2009, the episode which reached the highest ratings ever in Doctors history was 'Restraint', which was aired on Tuesday, 31 March and saw Ruth Pearce admitted to "The Beeches" after developing a mental obsession over colleague and friend, Michelle Corrigan. Another episode in 2009 that reached 3.4 million viewers was 'Cold Comfort', which was the last episode aired in 2009; it involved the Christmas party which saw Dr. Lily Hassan's marriage proposal to Dr. Heston Carter turned down by him.
  • In 2010, there was a slight increase in ratings on 2009. The episode which peaked 3.7 million was the last in the year. Aired on 17 December 2010 the episode titled, These Boots saw the departure of Receptionist Ruth Pearce and the dramatic scenes of Dr Simon Bond having to have his stomach pumped by colleagues; Dr Zara Carmichael and Dr Daniel Granger. The previous episode aired on the 16th of December peaked viewers of 3.5 million to see Receptionist Karen Hollins receive news about her unexpected pregnancy.
  • The highest 2011 rating, so far, is 2.5 million on 31 January, witnessing Karen Hollins make a decision on her unwanted pregnancy.

International Broadcasts

In Ireland the series is shown on RTÉ One at midday, Monday to Friday. They are currently airing episodes a year behind the BBC. Episodes can also be viewed on RTÉ Player.[8]

Doctors is also shown on BBC Entertainment and is currently just over 2 years behind


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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