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General Hospital (UK TV series)

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General Hospital (UK TV series)

General Hospital was a British daytime soap opera produced by ATV that ran on ITV from 1972 to 1979. It was not modelled after the American drama of the same name. Rather, it was an attempt to replicate the success of its predecessor, Emergency - Ward 10. Theme music was "Girl in the White Coat" by the Derek Scott Orchestra.

In 1972, ITV started to broadcast programmes on weekday afternoons, triggering a new wave of productions to fill out the extended schedules. Among the first of these shows, which were aimed at giving advertisers access to 'stay at home mums' and housewives in general, were the long-running rural soap Emmerdale Farm (YTV) and the twice-weekly medical drama General Hospital.

Set in a fictional Midlands town, the series followed the romantic and professional lives of its doctors and nurses. While the location and the characters names had been changed, in most other respects General Hospital was almost identical to its predecessor, Emergency – Ward 10, a deliberate attempt to recreate its success.

In 1975, after 270 twice-weekly episodes, General Hospital was given a prime time slot on Friday evening. The move saw the episode lengths double from 30 to 60 minutes, with each episode being more self-contained, while on-screen medical procedures, including detailed scenes of surgery, became more prominent.

Amongst the regular cast of the series was actor Tony Adams who played Doctor Neville Bywaters; he also appeared as Adam Chance in Crossroads. Among the other familiar faces to appear was Lynda Bellingham, who gained national fame as the mother in a series of commercials for Oxo stock cubes, and later as Helen Herriot in the series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the books by James Herriot. Other notable regulars included Carmen Munroe, who was also a regular presenter in the Play School children's programme team; and a young Sally Knyvette, who went on to appear in Blake's 7 and Emmerdale Farm.

By 1979, the "homely" feel of General Hospital was considered to be old-fashioned in the wake of newer, grittier dramas, and it was cancelled. Many episodes are missing from television archives.

Cast list

DVD Releases

In August 2012 a DVD of the surviving episodes from the original 270 twice-weekly version of the show was released under the banner Series 1. The DVD includes episodes 1, 2, 3*, 4, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 13*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*, 25*, 26*, 29, 32, 100, 126, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 258 (episodes marked with a "*" are presented on the DVD in Black and White but were made in colour).

A second volume containing the first prime time series is due in April 2013 marketed as Series 2.

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