The series was created by Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin. According to writer Susan Wilkins, it was meant to be a response to the Margaret Thatcher era, and Unwin said that as young socialists, they wanted to create a "television revolution" that would be feminist, anti-racist, pro-NHS and anti-Tory.
Casualty and Holby City are both set in Holby City Hospital, in the fictional county of Wyvern, in the south-west of England.
From the show's inception to series 26, episode 16, the city exterior was represented by Bristol, including well-known landmarks such as the floating harbour and Clifton Suspension Bridge often visible in outdoor scenes. City of Bristol College was used as the location for most exterior shots of the hospital from 1986 until 2002, when a new exterior set was built in Lawrence Hill Industrial Park in the city. Casualty has also filmed at Chavenage House back in 1997.
Following plans to switch filming to Birmingham, it was confirmed on 26 March 2009 that filming of Casualty from 2011 would move to a purpose-built studio and backlot set at the BBC Roath Lock studios in Cardiff, South Wales. Episode 16 of series 26 marked the final episode filmed in Bristol, with a fire destroying the department. The first episode from Cardiff, broadcast on 7 January 2012, was an 80-minute episode. Most exterior shots of the city of Holby are now shot within the city of Cardiff and wider area of South Wales. Railway scenes are shot on location at various preserved railways, which from the start of shooting have centred around the West Somerset Railway and the Avon Valley Railway.
The programme has usually been transmitted on Saturday nights, although for a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s it switched to Fridays. The first two series each consisted of 15 episodes; series 3 ran for 10 episodes (although one of those episodes was postponed following the death of its guest star, Roy Kinnear); series 4, 5 and 6 were 12, 13, and 15 episodes long respectively. The final episode of series 6, which focused on a plane crash, was postponed until February 1992, after being initially scheduled for transmission on 20 December 1991 – one day before the 3rd anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster.
When the show moved back to Saturday nights in September 1992, the series length was extended to 24 episodes per year, and placed in a pre-watershed slot at approximately 8 pm. This initially caused some controversy due to the graphic and controversial nature of some of the storylines. In 1997-8, the episode number was increased again, with 26 episodes (including two 75-minute specials) making up series 12. Subsequent series each saw an increase in episodes; series 13 ran for 28 episodes, series 14 ran for 30 episodes, series 15 ran for 36 episodes, series 16 and 17 ran for 40 episodes and series 18 ran for 46 episodes. Since 2004, popularity of the show resulted in a switch from a traditional seasonal format (which had progressed from three months in its early years to around seven months by 2001) to an almost year-round production and transmission — each series from series 19 (2004/5) to 25 (2010/11) has lasted for 48 episodes. However, this figure was dropped to 42 for series 26, with no summer break, which was related to production moving from Bristol to Cardiff. Series 27 consists of 44 episodes – an increase of 2 episodes on the previous series and returned to 48 for series 28. In addition, from series 26, the show also began broadcasting in August of their respective years, rather than start in September.
Casualty usually runs for 50 minutes between 20:00—22:00 slot on BBC One. Special events such as the Eurovision Song Contest and sporting events sometimes see the schedule moved around. On most of these occasions, Casualty is taken off-air for the night to make way for alternative shows. It has been known in the past that if an episode is in two parts, part one will be aired on the Saturday and part two on Sunday. It is broadcast across Europe via BBC Entertainment on the same date.
Casualty follows the professional and personal lives of the medical and ancillary staff of Holby City Hospital's emergency department. It features an ensemble cast of regular characters, and began with ten main characters in its first series. The original characters were consultant Ewart Plimmer (Bernard Gallagher), senior house officer Baz Samuels (Julia Watson), charge nurse Charlie Fairhead (Derek Thompson), staff nurse Clive King (George Harris), state enrolled nurse Megan Roach (Brenda Fricker), student nurse Lisa "Duffy" Duffin (Cathy Shipton), paramedics Sandra Mute and Andrew Ponting (Lisa Bowerman and Robert Pugh), receptionist Susie Mercier (Debbie Roza) and porter Kuba Trzcinski (Christopher Rozycki). New main characters have been both written in and out of the series since, with only Charlie and Duffy currently in the show.
As of the thirty-first series of Casualty the regular cast consists of senior charge nurse and emergency nurse practitioner Charlie Fairhead (Derek Thomspon), senior ward sister and midwife Lisa "Duffy" Duffin (Cathy Shipton), clinical lead Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing), deputy clinical lead Elle Gardner (Jaye Griffiths), consultants Dylan Keogh (William Beck), registrars Ethan Hardy (George Rainsford), Caleb Knight (Richard Winsor) and Lily Chao (Crystal Yu), junior doctor Alicia Munroe (Chelsea Halfpenny), clinical nurse manager Jacob Masters (Charles Venn), staff nurses Robyn Miller (Amanda Henderson), David Hide (Jason Durr) and Louise Tyler (Azuka Oforka), paramedics Iain Dean (Michael Stevenson) and Jez Andrews (Lloyd Everitt), receptionist Noel Garcia (Tony Marshall) and porter Max Walker (Jamie Davis), medical director, registrar in general surgery Sam Strachan (Tom Chambers)
While chief executive officer, consultant general surgeon Henrik Hanssen, Keller – (Guy Henry), Ric Griffin, acting chief executive officer, clinical lead, consultant general surgeon, (Hugh Quarshie), Jac Naylor, clinical lead, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, (Rosie Marcel), Mo Effanga, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon (Chizzy Akudolu) also appear
A survey published by Radio Times magazine in March 2004 revealed that Casualty has featured more future stars than any other UK soap or drama series. Actors who appeared in the show prior to becoming famous include Kate Winslet, Orlando Bloom, Minnie Driver, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Hiddleston, Parminder Nagra, Sadie Frost, Ray Winstone, David Walliams, Jonny Lee Miller, Martin Freeman, Helen Baxendale, Robson Green and Brenda Fricker. Discussing her 1993 appearance in Casualty, Winslet told the Radio Times: "In England, it almost seems to be part of a jobbing actor's training [to appear in Casualty]. As far as I was concerned it was a great episode, a great part. Appearing in Casualty taught me a big lesson in how to be natural in front of the camera." In addition, the series has featured a variety of more established stars, including Norman Wisdom, Amanda Redman, Anita Dobson, Jenny Seagrove, Rula Lenska, Prunella Scales, Celia Imrie, Toyah Willcox, Maureen Lipman, Frances Barber, Andrew Sachs, Russ Abbot, Stephanie Beacham, Honor Blackman and Michelle Collins in cameo roles.
The original title sequence featured a speeding ambulance with flashing lights arriving at casualty with a police escort. A CGI heart monitor was shown over the titles. The 49 second sequence shows the patient's point of view and their journey through the department into resus. The heartbeat turned into electric arcs, possibly as a result of a defibrillator being used as the bed moves around the hospital. The theme is used again in second episode of series 30, this time inter-cut with scenes of Connie Beauchamp (Amanda Mealing) performing CPR on Charlie Fairhead (Derek Thompson) and also Lofty (Lee Mead) travelling through the Emergency Department.
Series 4, in 1989, launched with a new title sequence, opening with an ambulance travelling in daytime. Different activities are then shown, including the ambulance clinicians, hospital equipment, a patient being treated and a blood pressure gauge, all separated by flashes of blue light. The next part of the sequence features new camera shots of the patient's journey into resus.
Series 7 from 1992 to 1993 saw a sequence returning to the original style, with the ambulance coming over the hill and a new heartbeat line moving across the bottom of the screen. As the ambulance arrives, the staff come out of the department to move the patient to resus.
In September 1993 (Series 8), the titles were revamped, based on the series 4 style, with the ambulance. Clips showed accidents and the ambulance journey instead of the patient's journey. Whilst the ambulance is being driven, a series of clips are superimposed. The sequence ends with the ambulance arriving at casualty. The Casualty logo flashes up on the screen when the screen blurs out. The sequence was tinted blue. These lasted until February 1997 when series 11 ended.
Again September 1997 saw a new look, with fragments of glass flying and a sequence utilising footage of medical staff, hospital equipment and patients' relatives. The sequence ends as all the pieces of glass that were shattered in the first few seconds of the sequence are re-formed into a single pane, which spells out the new Casual+y logo. Minor edits were made when these titles were shortened towards the end of 1998 for series 13 but they remained essentially the same until series 14 ended in March 2000.
A more arty sequence appeared in September 2000 (series 15), with a fast forward technique, featuring a clock ticking through the night, an airbag deploying, the ambulance, speeding through evening traffic and patients arriving at reception. The second half of the sequence focuses on a patient being treated in Resus from a bird's-eye perspective. The sequence ends in slow motion as the patient recovers and his relatives crowd round his bed, before the people and equipment disappear, leaving the distinctive chequered flooring of the department and the Casual+y logo. The original 1986 theme tune remained, but as the 'September 1998' shortened version again.
A new theme tune marked the arrival of series 16 in September 2001, with a distinct change to the opening titles. For the first time, the focus was on the characters, who were presented posing to the camera against a blurred dark background. The only 'medical' references were the glimpses of an ambulance and a heart rate graphic in the opening seconds of the titles. The same logo introduced in 1997 remains at the end.
Series 17, starting in September 2002, saw a return to a generic medical-themed title. The focus was on the international symbol of medical aid, the red cross, shown at different sizes moving around the screen, often filled with footage such as paramedics and a patient being given cardiac massage, against a stark white background. This sequence was also filled with abstract graphics, elements of the Casual+y logo and footage of medical emergencies. The logo is formed by the merging of the various crosses & abstract shapes at the end of the sequence. Similarly to the titles of September 2001 – June 2002 (which featured the characters), the 1997 logo remained at the end until these credits were replaced in September 2006 (series 21).
Brand new titles were introduced in series 21 – this also marked the usage of a brand new Casual+y logo – using stop-frame footage of the ambulance on its journey, followed by images of characters and equipment, mixed with footage of a patient being taken to resus. The sequence was tinted in a turquoise hue and interrupted by a flashing amber graphic, reminiscent of the heart rate line from the original titles sequence. Series 21 saw the use of an orchestral-style variation of the theme tune, though this reverted to the previous version used since series 16.
Series 26 returned after its Christmas break in January 2012, filmed in high-definition for the first time, to coincide with the move to Cardiff's Roath Lock. A new opening sequence was introduced, reminiscent of the early opening titles, in homage to the show's roots. The variant of the theme music used since series 16 (except series 21) remained in use.
On 4 January 2014, the theme tune received a revamp and had a resemblance to the original 1986 theme tune. The closing credits were a continuation of the new updated theme tune. As of 8 February 2014, new titles were used and so was a new CASUAL+Y logo.
On 27 August 2016, the 30th anniversary episode and series 31 opener, the theme tune and opening titles received a complete revamp with a darker effect as scenes around the hospital are shown with Charlie being the only character in shot with the opening titles ending with the logo and title cards. The theme tune features the BBC Wales Orchestra performing background instruments.
The original closing credit music was known for being slightly different from its opening music. It was originally over one minute in length and over the years was shortened. The original music also had a lead in, known for being haunting and emotional. At the beginning it was not used in every episode. Between series 1–9, it was only used during emotional endings, for example when Duffy was raped and Sandra Mute being killed off. Between series 9–12, it was mainly used to close every episode. In September 1998, the closing theme was moved up a semitone, making the tune even more haunting. The end theme was reduced further in 2000 to go with BBC guidelines. Usage of this tune ended with series 15 in April 2001.
When the theme tune was updated in 2001, the closing credit music was a shortened version of the opening music. The main change was the lead-in music: two versions were used in the twelve years. Series 21 saw the theme tune being changed for a single series; it was made orchestral and only lasted one series. When Adam left the series at the end of series 25, a sad piano-based version was used. It has only ever been used on that one occasion.
When the theme tune changed for series 21 in September 2006, the closing credits were essentially a continuation of the opening tune. Dramatic and edgy, it was more akin to the original 1986 theme and the current 2014 theme.
When the series returned in 2014 after the Christmas break, the theme tune had received a revamp, more akin to the original. The closing credits had been slightly extended with sections from the original end theme returning, for example the final end notes. The end lead in music (a piece of music which leads into the main closing credits) which was used between series 1–15 returned, sounding very similar to the original. There were a few variations used in episodes between 2014 and 2016. An emotional version using strings and violin, A version using trumpet and beeps and a much basic sounding version just using beeps, those that sound like medical machinery.
From 2016, series 30. New variations were introduced, most of them mixing with emotion and melodrama. The introduction of piano being a new thing for the music lead in melody.
The Reflective theme is a variation of the main theme music, mainly consisting of the main melody. It was originally played over character exits, but has also been in use during emotional moments. First introduced on 15 August 2015. It has been used 5 times since.
The first three series of Casualty were released on DVD (Region 2, UK) by 2 Entertain/Cinema Club. The third was released to coincide with the show's 20th anniversary celebrations. In Australia the first series was released by Umbrella Entertainment. There are no future DVD releases planned at present for the UK or Australia.
All episodes from series 29, series 30 and episodes of series 31 that have been broadcast are available to purchase and download from the BBC Store. To coincide with Casualty's 30 year anniversary, the BBC Store released a collection of 14 classic episodes. The collection named Casualty: Spot the Star contains episodes featuring acting stars early on in their careers. The episodes available in this collection are shown below. It is currently unknown if other former episodes will be available for purchase.
Holby City began on 12 January 1999 as a spin-off from Casualty and is named after the fictional Holby City Hospital in which both series are set. The show follows the lives and careers of staff and patients on the surgical wards of the hospital, and deals with a range of clinical and ethical issues. Similarly to Casualty, the regular characters are all surgeons, nurses and other medical and ancillary staff, with patients played by guest actors, including famous names such as Eric Sykes, Phill Jupitus, Michael Jayston, Michele Dotrice, Ronni Ancona, Emma Samms, Lee Ryan, Nikki Sanderson and Johnny Briggs. The show was created by Mal Young and Tony McHale, who became its executive producer between 2007 and 2010. He was succeeded by Casualty executive producer Belinda Campbell.
Reflecting Holby City's origins as a spin-off from Casualty and the closely related premises of the two programmes, the BBC has screened occasional crossover mini-dramas entitled [email protected] City, featuring a number of characters from each of the two casts. Mervyn Watson, former executive producer of Casualty, has commented on the origins of the idea to fully cross the two shows over for the first time: "I think the idea came from somebody in the comedy department, who casually said to the Controller of Drama 'Wouldn't it be a good idea if ...' The Controller did think it was a good idea, spoke to myself and Holby's executive producer, got it commissioned by the Head of BBC One and the rest is history."
Filming of [email protected] City episodes is usually divided between Casualty's Bristol set, and Holby City's Elstree studios, although a large proportion of the Christmas 2005 crossover was also filmed on location in a road tunnel in Caernarfon, Wales. The theme tune used for crossover episodes consists of a shortened version of both the Casualty and Holby City theme tunes, played over one another in sync, criticized by the Daily Mirror for being "basically both theme tunes played at once." Interviewed prior to broadcast of the Christmas 2005 crossover, Watson commented on the future of [email protected] City: "We can't guarantee any crossovers for next year, but the audience likes them. And as long as the Controller of BBC One wants them, then we'll be happy to oblige." In November 2007, Holby City producer Diana Kyle added: "We like to do crossovers whenever we can, but it's tricky because both Holby City and Casualty film for 52 weeks a year, so the actors on each show have to work flat-out on their own programmes. We are trying to create more opportunities where the two dramas can merge, though." Another crossover was broadcast in 2010, with Casualty producer Oliver Kent commenting that the production teams enjoy airing crossovers, and that the difficulty in producing them is "purely logistics".
In April 2006, the BBC announced that a spin-off drama from the show, to be named HolbyBlue, was in early stages of production. The series focuses on the police service of Holby South, and aired for the duration of its first series on BBC One on Tuesday nights, with Holby City switching back to its former Thursday night slot at 8:00 pm. Long running Casualty character Charlie Fairhead appeared in HolbyBlue's first episode, and a full two part crossover episode with Holby City aired at the beginning of the show's second series. On 6 August 2008, the BBC announced that HolbyBlue has been axed after two series.
In December 2006, the BBC broadcast a historical medical drama titled Casualty 1906, reflecting life in the 'Receiving Room' (A+E was a concept not yet developed) of the Royal London Hospital 100 years previously, based on historical hospital records and news reports of the time. A three-episode miniseries, titled Casualty 1907, was developed for broadcast in 2008. Although not a direct spin-off, nor set in the same fictional location, The Times has suggested "that this is BBC high-concept brand-extension at its very best", with the BBC using the popularity of and viewer familiarity with Casualty to launch a new historical drama — a conclusion The Guardian also asserted. A third series, Casualty 1908, featuring Cherie Lunghi, was also commissioned. On 25 March 2009, it was announced that the BBC would be airing Casualty 1909, a six-part series which aired in June and July 2009.
In 2007, Casualty won its first major award, the BAFTA for the best continuing drama. Long-serving Ian Bleasdale, who played paramedic Josh Griffiths, accepted the award at the ceremony, which took place at the London Palladium. He said "To the doctors, nurses and ambulance crews, thank you for doing the job you do. I hope we go some way to showing exactly what it is," and dedicated the award to the show's original producer, Geraint Morris, who died in 1997. The cast of the show released the single "Everlasting Love", which peaked at No. 5 in the UK in 1998. On 5 January 2010, it was announced that Casualty had been nominated for the 'Best Drama' award at the National Television Awards, receiving in the same category in 2016 before winning in 2017 (beating Game of Thrones, Cold Feet, The Night Manager and Happy Valley. Since its inception, Casualty has won and been nominated for the following awards (excluding longlisted nominations):