Episode 1. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. I'll go into more detail as the series progresses....

Episode Summary:-

At the very end of the first series Issy (Catherine Russell) had just gone into labour with her and Robert Kingsford's (Martin Shaw) child. The first episode of this series opens with the proud (but pragmatic!) parents bringing baby Harry into the hospital to be admired - and, let's admit it, cooed over! - by the staff.
       A severely burned garage mechanic, his chances of survival poor, is rushed to A&E, and is desperate to see his wife and daughter before being sedated for treatment - and the daughter is too frightened to come to him. Chris (Dr Christine Fletcher - Niamh Cusack) asks Robert to hold the fort while she tries to persuade the girl out of her mother's car.
       A group of children, the (mostly unscathed) victims of a minibus accident, are brought in, all holding hands - and they won't let go... Stuart (Dr Stuart Phelan - Paul Warriner) deals with the situation with his customary gentle efficiency - but is then assaulted by the father of one of the children.
       A window-cleaner's cradle collapses, dropping the two cleaners 20 feet to the ground. One lands on his feet (thereby breaking an assortment of bones in his feet and legs): the other lands flat...

It's an almost subdued introduction to the second series! After his agonising over being an 'older' father (in the first series), it's a delight to see Robert as the quietly proud daddy, determined to become a family man. And Issy is as practical and pragmatic as ever (I really like this character. She's so incredibly down to earth.) She knows Robert won't give up his life's work (a cynic would add that, of course, repeatedly telling a person they'll behave in a certain way can have the effect of making them do just that....)
       Nevertheless (and of course I may be wrong here...) I got the impression that Robert might have been just the tiniest, tiniest bit taken aback that the unit was functioning perfectly happily without him. OK - there were trolleys all over the place, but that's not really that important.... Unless someone falls over one and breaks something, I guess...

So, highlights of this first episode?

Calm efficiency, tact, a shrewd insight into what makes people 'tick' and a working knowledge of interpersonal psychology - just a few of the elements required of the A&E staff. I love the way the series takes the time to portray - subtly and without fuss - how 'difficulties' are resolved. It's just one of the things that makes the series so believable.
      ......Chris Fletcher's appealing to Lucy in the car, finding - despite the desperate haste to get her to her father's bedside before it was too late - exactly the right words to break through the youngster's fear.
       ......Stuart's hitting the right note with the kids from St Faiths - and then being hit by Laura's father.... Was I alone in wanting to chase after the idiot and thump him back, harder?
       Lovely gory humour - an accident case is brought in with a bicycle handlebar embedded quite thoroughly and very nastily in his abdomen. (The rest of the bicycle has been mangled by its collision with a lorry...) As the victim is rushed up to surgery, Mike quips - "Hope your bell still works..." (And I'm not even going to mention Lou's "One of the perks of the job..." when performing a rectal examination on one of the window cleaners...)

Personal Asides

       I like the fact that there are two extremely good female doctors on the staff - and one rather lovely male nurse! Moreover, I love the fact that the female doctors can argue with the consultant - and get their own way - while the male nurse feels sufficiently proud of what he is to absolutely insist on being called by his correct title. Oh, wonderful stuff! Anything that shapes the future into a more equitable cast has got to be good.

But the most important element in the series is the way the entire crew pull together as team. Personal problems are forgotten in the drive to save lives. (Well, put on hold for the duration, anyway.) At a time when the medical profession is taking one hell of a knocking, a series like this tends to renew one's faith in the guardians of the nation's health.

© 2000 Joules Taylor

And of course I just have to quote that no-doubt-soon-to-be-immortalised speech!

Issy, who has been sitting waiting for Robert while he covers for Chris, jokingly-seriously accuses him, yet again, of being an A&E junkie. He replies....

"It's a young man's job. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, the baseball cap and the tattoo on me arse."


"No - I'm packing it all in, spend more time with my family."

[longer pause]

"There. I've said it."


Episode 2