BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 17:22 GMT
Doctors go on call
Doctors starts on BBC One on Monday
All Creatures Great and Small star Christopher Timothy returns to television on Monday in the BBC's new drama serial, Doctors.

Timothy, who built up a devoted following as country vet James Herriot, plays Dr Brendan McGuire, the senior partner in an inner city general practice.

He is joined by Jacqueline Leonard, who played Lorraine Wicks in EastEnders, as well Mark Frost and Carli Norris in the new series, which will run five afternoons a week on BBC One.

Timothy, who says he is "thrilled" to be involved with the show, which is a collection of self-contained 30-minute stories rather than a traditional soap opera.


"On set there's an amazing sense of drama and commitment from everyone around. People really want it to be a success."

Dr McGuire - Mac to his colleagues - is billed as an old-fashioned and highly-respected physician who isn't afraid to speak his mind - or as Timothy puts it, "James Herriot grown older".

Jacqueline Leonard took a year off work when she left EastEnders to relocate to Lancashire and care for her sick mother.
Christopher Timothy and Jacqueline Leonard
Christopher Timothy and Jacqueline Leonard
She describes her character, the demanding Dr Caroline Powers, as "a real dark horse who is giving out a lot of signals, right from the very beginning".

Leonard, 30, has already been seen in a medical drama - she played doctor's wife Sarah Preston in ITV's Peak Practice.

Jane Lush, the BBC's head of daytime programming, is confident her new show will be a success.

"It had to be ambitious. People don't know how hungry they are for something new until they are presented with it.

"What sets Doctors apart is its small serial element: you can dip in and out at will, the core characters remain the same, but each episode is different."

Original drama

Head of drama Mal Young said he had wanted to produce an original drama for daytime TV for years.

"Viewers can come to the series at any stage and see top actors in both regular and guest slots, with scripts by some great writing talent.

"Some days the focus will be on the doctors, on others it will be the patients. At every stage we have been advised by real doctors with years of experience."

Christopher Timothy sat in at consultations at a real GPs' surgery to get in practice for the role - and was surprised by the reaction he got.

"People were very good and mostly unfazed by the sight of an actor listening from the corner.
Akbar Kurtha and Mark Frost
Akbar Kurtha and Mark Frost play doctors Rana Mistry and Steve Rawlings
"They were very understanding and open, especially one woman who came in to talk about hormone replacement therapy!"

A new set has been built at the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham, and the corporation is hoping Doctors will become as much fixture of daytime schedules as the imported soap Neighbours.

Mal Young points at the bigger audience available to the show - "more people work from home, people dip in and out rather than having the TV on all day" - and says Doctors offers them choice.

Indeed, daytime drama could be television's next battleground. ITV exectutives are reportedly pondering whether the network should to invest in its own home-grown daytime soap to replace Home And Away, which has been bought by Channel 5.

But for now, according to Christopher Timothy, the omens are good for Doctors.

"It's fast, but not as much as much as I first expected. It feels just right; energetic, slick. We seem to be a good team.

"In fact, we all went out together last night to celebrate a birthday, which has to be a good sign, doesn't it?"

Doctors starts on BBC One at 1230 BST on Monday.

See also:

20 Mar 00 | Entertainment
BBC springs into summer
09 Mar 00 | Entertainment
BBC searches for stars
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories