Just back from the BBC party to mark the end of 25 years of filming Casualty in Bristol. Many of the cast, past and present, were there including nurse Charlie Fairhead who like most of the cast is a constituent of mine in real life.
After about 800 episodes filmed here, Holby now moves from Bristol to Cardiff. Ironically I made the reverse move when series 1 was being aired. As a first year student at Bristol University I enjoyed pointing out the familiar Bristol scenes to my south Wales family and friends, particularly the ambulance racing up St Michael’s Hill in the opening credits. At least I’ll still be able to recognise the new Holby streetscape, just as I often recognise scenes from Dr Who and Torchwood, also shot in and around Cardiff.
The move was certainly controversial when announced by the BBC in 2009. I had several meetings with BBC execs before the decision was made, making the case for the BBC continuing to make contemporary drama in Bristol. But actually I think there is great potential for developing the whole Severnside region as an area of media creativity. The two cities are less than an hour apart.
Tonight’s party was held in a non descript warehouse in the St Phillips area of Bristol. Once through the doors it was like a real hospital, with NHS branding and medical paraphernalia. Also there were the Bristol NHS staff who advise the actors how to make their scenes look realistic in the “Holby” resuss ward. All that was missing was the smell of a real hospital ward!
Apart from Charlie, there was nurse Duffy, Dr Trueman, nurse Tess and many more. My only disappointment was the absence of a few male nurses who I’ve fancied over the years of sporadic Casualty viewing…