Emergency Ward 10 on DVD

Revisit ITV’s first medical saga on DVD.

The twice-weekly adventures of the Oxbridge General Hospital can be enjoyed once more as the medical serial, Emergency Ward 10 – famous for giving Richard Thorp, now Alan Turner in Emmerdale, his earliest television role, is released on DVD for the first time.

Emergency Ward 10 was Britain’s first medical serial (now more commonly known as ‘soap opera’). The show, produced by ATV in London, rapidly became a favourite with the nation’s viewing public. Between 1957 and 1967 it regularly pulled in audiences in excess of 15 million and spawned two spin-off programmes and a feature-film adaptation.

Speaking in 1958 the producer, Antony Kearey, spoke of producing the two weekly episodes, which at the time was compared to the American soap operas – the UK wouldn’t get its first taste of daily “soap opera” until 1964 with the arrival of ATV’s other series, Crossroads:

“Making a 30-minute serial twice a week is ten times as hard. A soap opera isn’t about high-quality scripts; they don’t have the time with such a turn over of five episodes. Emergency Ward 10 is watched by millions of viewers and they expect a high-quality show with the highest standards of ITV. They expect these standards to be kept up.”

Richard Thorp and Desmond Carrington were the big stars of EW10.

Concentrating as much on the private lives of the staff as it did on their jobs, the show set the template for today’s modern medical soaps. It also introduced the viewers to medical procedures, earning praise from the British Medical Council for helping to allay the public’s fears of hospitals.

The show ran for ten years until 1967 and became an infamous regret of ATV Network boss Lord Lew Grade – he said axing the show was one of his biggest television mistakes – so much so he gave it a new injection of life in the very similar General Hospital of the 1970s. The latter series, however, was based in The Midland General rather than the London original.

This series, in common with many from the 1950s and ‘60s, no longer exists in its entirety; the volumes of Emergency Ward 10, therefore, contain what select editions survive in the ATV film library.

Special Features

The various volumes contain a number of special features. From archive ATV trailers to PDF promotional material.

ATV tried to replicate the success of Emergency Ward 10 with General Hospital in the 1970s.