1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 9 (UK)
110 x 30 minute episodes
54 x 60 minute episodes
Made by ATV, General Hospital was strikingly similar to Emergency – Ward 10, which wasn’t surprising in view of the fact that Sir Lew Grade had mournfully declared that dropping Emergency – Ward 10 five years earlier had been a mistake.
Surgery, romance and problem-solving amongst the doctors, nurses and surprisingly perky patients of Midland General began at lunchtimes for half-hour sessions twice a week using a set so small you would have thought the NHS cuts happened in the Midlands 15 years before the rest of the country!
By 1975 ATV had built a bigger set at Elstree and changed viewers’ treatment to one weekly hour-long dose at suppertime on Fridays.
Although some of the best-loved nurses – two were played by Lynda Bellingham (who gained national fame as the mother in a series of Bisto gravy commercials) and Judy Buxton (pictured below) – had moved on, women viewers could still dream about being under Dr Baxter (James Kerry) or Dr Bywaters (Tony Adams before his Crossroads fame as the devious Adam Chance) and enjoy the power-conflicts of Dr Armstrong (David Garth) and prickly William Parker-Brown (Lewis Jones).
Carmen Munroe’s sensible West Indian Sister Washington was a great favourite.
The show took its title from the venerable US stethoscope saga (which ran on the ABC network from 1963 onwards), but the scripts rarely set pulses racing and the show was eventually diagnosed terminally dull and put out of its misery in January 1979.
Dr Martin Baxter
Dr Matthew Armstrong
Dr Peter Ridge
Dr Robert Thorne
Sister Ellen Chapman
Staff Nurse Bowman
Nurse Hilda Price
Student Nurse Katy Shaw