An extension of the formula which made Emergency-Ward 10 Britain's most popular medical soap opera of the 1950s and 60s was foremost in the minds of those who planned Call Oxbridge 2000 and bought it into being, although their resulting efforts failed to capture the hearts of the Sunday afternoon viewing audience and after just one year the surgery at Oxbridge closed its doors for the final time. Central figure in the programme was Dr. John Rennie who, as a Casualty Officer in the Oxbridge Hospital of the Ward 10 programme, had been a household favourite since he was first seen in the programme in September 1959. As played by Richard Thorp, Dr. Rennie had left the hospital and gone to work in private practice with an uncle, working from a surgery on the outskirts of town. But he had not severed entirely his connections with the Ward 10 programme or it's mythical Oxbridge hospital.
Many of the established members of the Ward 10 cast played important parts in the story Call Oxbridge 2000 told, meeting patients whom Dr. Rennie and his uncle think need hospitalisation, or discussing with them the care of patients once they had left hospital. So the thread of hospital and family doctor relationship was maintained, as was the continuity between the two series much like it was many years later when the BBC's highly successful Casualty series spun off into Holby City. Such was the determination to keep the two programmes together that the first scripts for Call Oxbridge 2000 was written by one of the four scriptwriters who worked on Emergency-Ward 10. The small core of professional medical advisers, producers and artistes who worked on E-W10 were made available for Call Oxbridge 2000 in order to add the authenticity of medical techniques and equipment that had been so successfully employed on its well tried stablemate.
The medical advisers, mindful of the great job which Ward 10 had done to give a better understanding in the minds of the general public of hospitals, what they do and who work in them, attempted to explain the work and lives of the great army of General Practitioners who had surgery's in almost any street or road in the towns and villages of the UK. And there were high hopes for the series. Not least in casting handsome Richard Thorp as the bachelor doctor who causes not a few flutters in the hearts of the more eligible of Oxbridge's young girls. However, in spite of an initial healthy viewing audience for Call Oxbridge 2000 within a year the series was beginning to run out of steam. And whilst Emergency-Ward 10 would continue until 1967, Dr Rennie was given an early retirement.
Published on December 2nd, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.