Happy 30th Birthday Casualty!

Friday, 26 August 2016

This weekend BBC drama Casualty is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a feature-length episode of the show.

The popular medical series was filmed in Bristol for its first 25 years and some of the real-life stars of our Emergency Department were involved in advising the TV crew and actors how to make the drama as realistic as possible.

The Southmead Hospital Emergency Department wish Casualty a Happy 30th birthday

Consultants and nurses from North Bristol NHS Trust have helped out with the programme set in the fictional Holby Emergency Department over the years.

And the team at the Southmead Hospital Emergency Department has sent their own celebratory message to the team at Casualty on their landmark birthday.

Simon Odum is an Emergency Department Consultant at Southmead Hospital and was an advisor to Casualty from 1999 until 2009.


What was your involvement in the show?

I advised on the medical themes on the show. There tend to be three main themes, or medical stories, in each episode, and certain themes would run through that series.

Why do you think Casualty has remained such a popular show?

The writers don't shy away from the tough stories, for example the mental health and wellbeing of Emergency Department staff. We work in an extremely busy and often stressful environment and they have demonstrated this well over the years. They've also moved with the times. The writers are so passionate and constantly talk about how they can improve, how the show can progress, what they can do better... I am so pleased it's still running; Casualty is a national treasure!

Any memorable moments?

I've been an extra four times playing a nurse, cardiothoracic surgeon, porter and patient! And my hands have been in the show countless times, demonstrating medical procedures close-up. Another time Bob Gwilym (who played Max) was shadowing us in the real Emergency Department. Following an examination of a patient, who happened to be a huge fan of the show, she looked up to "Max" and said: "Did he do it properly?" I have lots of good memories; it was great fun! 

Do you have a favourite character?

Duffy (played by Cathy Shipton) is just lovely, and Josh (played by Ian Bleasdale) is a great bloke. I got on with them all; they're a lovely team.

How accurate is the show compared to a real life Emergency Department?

It's as accurate as it can possibly be, but obviously has limitations because it still has to be entertaining. I remember the writers asking me to come up with some outrageous storylines; some weren't at all feasible but many made it to the screen. Once I was asked to come up with an illness for Charlie's son; we went with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - a bacterial infection transmitted by a tick in the USA!

Tell us something we might not know about Casualty

They don't use any incidental music. Apart from the opening and closing credits, no music is used. They believe the drama of the show is enough - clearly they're right! 



Kirsten Jones is an Emergency Department Consultant at Southmead Hospital, and was an advisor to Casualty for one series:

How did you become involved with the show?

It was filmed in Bristol for many years. I was a trainee then and we were approached to support the crew and cast with storyline development and medical practice advice. I advised on the authenticity of storylines and practical procedures, and provided medical facts and information.

Were there any challenges along the way?

Getting the balance between the show being entertaining and medically plausible is a challenge for the writers. I would receive the scripts to read through beforehand and also visit the set during filming. This way I could comment on the story as it evolved and make sure the scenes looked realistic, were medically accurate and that medical terms were pronounced correctly.

Are there any key storylines that stand out for you?

I was once asked to be an extra in the show and demonstrate a cardiac massage on a "patient". It was very exciting even if was only for about 90 seconds!

How accurate is the show compared to a real life Emergency Department?

The show really captures the amazing close knit team that work in an Emergency Department (ED). Casualty highlights the camaraderie and support in an ED team, as well as demonstrating the stressful environment and unpredictable nature of our work. 

What is the best thing about working in the Emergency Department?

We are a family; we work together as a team which helps enormously. It's a great environment to work in!