1 9 7 9 (UK)
12 x 30 minute episodes
Debuting on Monday 18 June 1979, this ATV children’s series was set in the children’s ward of a large hospital (in fact, it was subtitled The Story of a Children’s Ward.)
The St Catherine’s ward for children was overcrowded and understaffed, old and in need of repair. Mischief and practical jokes from the patients were also regular features of each day for new student nurses Sandy (Vivienne Avramoff) and Patricia (Pat Wainwright).
Craig McFarlane (pictured) played the part of 14-year-old Robert Evans, the only patient to remain in the hospital for the duration of the series due to complications with a leg fracture he received when he fell from a tree while playing truant from school.
12-year-old Adrian Foster (Steven O’Shea) was the child of divorced parents, torn between the father he liked and the step-father he liked just as much. To cover his anxiety, he played endless practical jokes in the ward and told white lies.
Future EastEnders star Susan Tully played a 10-year-old cockney girl called Rosalie who had a habit of running away from the ward and hiding in cupboards.
Other regular characters included Sister O’Neill (Finnuala O’Shannon) – a strict disciplinarian with a great sense of humour – and the children’s play leader, Pam Lever (Sue Nicholls), who had the difficult job of keeping the children occupied all day.
Storylines were full of suitable “learning” opportunities, though, like learning dignity, learning to take responsibility, and learning to live with others from all types of racial, religious and economic backgrounds.
Episodes were filmed at Elstree with producer Royston Morley, who also directed some episodes. Morley conducted research at St Stephen’s Hospital in Fulham for the series. Writers included Dick Sharples, Chris Bird, Max Marquis, Allan Prior, David Fisher and Alan Payne.
The final episode aired on Monday 26 November.
Student Nurse Sandy Scoular
Student Nurse Patricia Ross
Mrs Pam Lever
Staff Nurse Lin