What was good about it?
• The period detail received so much loving attention it was easy to be swept back in time to when The London Hospital received the poorest of the poor, with their ragged coughs, unsightly skin infections and bullet wounds. Cheery middle-class folk were on hand to dispense treatment with a huge dose of benevolence and rudimentary medical techniques.
• The scene featuring the insertion of a turpentine and enema solution. “Have you greased the buttocks and the anus. We don’t want any burning.”
• Sarah Smart as the newly promoted Sister Ada Russell, laying on the discipline thick while getting all soppy around her secret lover Dr James Walton (Tom Riley).
• The burgeoning ambition of probationary nurse Ethel Bennett (Charity Wakefield) who was encouraged by Dr Millais Culpin (William Houston) to look beyond mere wound dressing and enema inserting.
• The Swedish health guru who reckoned you could exercise to fitness and gently encouraged pallid children to hoist Indian clubs aloft.
What was bad about it?
• The focus was no longer on Cherie Lunghi’s brilliant Matron Eva Luckes, with her superior, carbolic-soaped air and ability to silence ruffians with a sturdy roar.
• Alfie ‘Lily’s brother’ Allen’s not a brilliant actor and only did a so-so job as the Whitechapel hoodlum Nobby Clarke. (Did anyone else notice how the camera hovered again and again over the bulge in his trousers? No wonder his character was called Nobby).
• The love scenes. We didn’t need a spoonful of sugar to hep the medicine go down. But at least it just involved two people, rather than the bizarre triangles that take up most of the Holby City staff’s time.
• The rather pointless baddie – the full-of-himself Dr Lawes (played by the actor who was the gay sergeant in The Bill a few years back).
Aired Sunday 30 March 2008