More Medication for ITV Drama

ITV isn’t renowned for its success with medical drama. The last long-running British serial on the network was ATV Network’s General Hospital – which closed its doors to the Midland General in December 1979. However, despite numerous failures – such as The Royal Today [pictured left] and Harley Street – ITV has today announced its ordered another new medical series.


ITV Drama, seeking replacements for 27-year-old Thames Television police drama The Bill, which is to end later in 2010, has announced the commissioning of the new medical drama with James Nesbitt in the title role.  Entitled, Monroe, the saga has been written and created by Peter Bowker and will be produced by Mammoth Screen.


Peter Bowker said: “I am a huge fan of hospital drama – not least because it provides the chance to tell big emotional stories based on compelling characters. 

“Neurosurgeons are the nearest thing we have to real-life miracle workers, yet they share the same human failings as the rest of us. We want them to be brave enough to take the decisions they take, yet they can’t always be right.  We don’t have to like them, but we have to believe in them. Monroe dramatises what it is like to be at the sharp end of those expectations.”


ITV describe Monroe as a brilliant and unusual neurosurgeon. ‘A flawed genius who never lets anyone forget his flaws or his genius. Each episode will feature one compelling story of the week about life or death situations. The drama will focus on the way in which a serious injury or disease cuts across the lives of everyone involved, from hospital staff to patients to relatives. And how that group become, in an intense few days, a reluctant dysfunctional family united by hopes, fears and grief. At the centre of this stands Monroe, his trainees, his anaesthetist and his poker school – and his female colleague, heart surgeon, Jenny Bremner, who has contempt for his cockiness.’ Continues the press release.


Monroe will start filming in September 2010 in Leeds. Among the production team is Michele Buck a stalwart of drama production since progressing through the ranks at Thames Television. Her other work includes Peak Practice, Boon and soap opera Crossroads (the original).


ITV’s Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie said: “Monroe will breathe new life into the medical genre, I hope the combination of Pete’s sharp and pacy script and Jimmy’s performance as the charismatic surgeon will make this one of the most compelling new dramas for 2011.”


Despite recent medical flops such as The Royal Today, ITV was in its early years home to the UK’s first regular medical serial, Emergency Ward 10, [pictured right, with a familiar Emmerdale face] which aired from 1957 to 1967. The show, produced by ATV Network, also had spin-off medical series’ and a big-screen movie released in 1959 due to its popularity. However since then, apart from General Hospital in the 1970s, ITV has failed to recapture that audience.