London Hospital

London Hospital

What She said:


This is a very confusing review to write, because frankly, this is a confusing miniseries/TV show to even talk about.  I found this gem on Amazon Prime, and it was called London Hospital.  But it’s a BBC program, and over there they call it Casualty 1900s.  Season 1, also known as Casualty 1906, aired on the BBC with a single one-hour episode in 2006.  Casualty 1907 aired with three episodes in 2008, and Casualty 1909 had six episodes airing in 2009.  To make things easier, I’m going to review these all together.  I think Amazon had this broken up as Casualty 1906 and Casualty 1907 together as Season 1 and Casualty 1909 as Season 2.  Either way, here goes.

The show is a dramatized look into the East End’s London Hospital in the early 1900s.   It’s supposedly based off of real journal entries and medical records, and the accounts show the emerging science of medicine.  It also looks at the hierarchy of the medical world in the early 20th Century, including the role of women as nurses (and not doctors).  There’s lots of other social commentary related to the legality of suicide attempts and abortion, crime, and clashes within the classes of English society.  The show is distinct to its time period, but I would stop short of calling it a period show.  There is minimal romance, and a high level of drama that seems to transcend the era. 

I won’t bother to talk about any of the actors directly, because, frankly, you wouldn’t recognize their names, but there are several reoccurring characters from episode to episode.  Among them are nurse Ada Russell, Matron Eva Luckes, Dr. Millais Culprin, probationer Ethel Bennett, Dr. Henry Head, and Mr. Henry Dean.  This is truly an ensemble production, and so in addition to these characters, there are a slew of others that come in and out from episode to episode.

London Hospital

Overall, I found the series to be fascinating.  It was interesting to see how early medicine was represented.  This was an important time for the field, as big advances were being made, but not without error.  Specifically, the miniseries focuses a lot on anesthesia of the time.  They were typically gassing patients for surgeries, but, without trained anesthesiologists, it was easy for patients to be put too far under or to accidentally kill them.  New IV anesthesias pop up, but they are not without debilitating side effects.  So, this era really was about cautious advances and the give and take of progress.  At the same time, I was fascinated by the dynamic between the doctors and nurses.  During this time, women were not allowed to be doctors at London Hospital, and so brilliant ladies who would be outstanding in the role were forced to be subordinate to the male docs.  And some of these doctors weren’t right, and the nurses knew they weren’t, but they were always cautious to say anything.  If they challenged the men, they could be harshly disciplined.  Peripherally, you see a lot about the fighting classes of London during that time.  There were a lot of extremely poor who fought among themselves and were involved with gangs. 

London Hospital/Casualty 1900s is presented in seasons, but really you can just watch them one after another.  It’s not quite a show, more of a miniseries, and there aren’t many overarching storylines.  It’s pretty easy to get through, and, if you have an interest in history or medicine, you will be compelled.  It’s high drama, but they reassure us that there’s an edge of reality to everything that we see.

Thumbs mostly up.