The Practice

1985 | United Kingdom

Twice weekly series set round a modern health centre, Granada's The Practice explored the professional lives of doctors, health visitors, district nurse, social worker and staff in the fictional Manchester inner-city area of Castlehulme.

The central characters covered the spectrum of contemporary medical attitudes from the traditional family doctor to the career- conscious idealist and the warm down-to-earth district nurse to the somewhat cynical social worker. As well as exploring their professional relationships and conflicts The Practice also explored the characters personal attitudes, friendships and conflicts. 'Their various reactions to situations open up different aspects of the stories,' said series producer Sita Williams. 'And we hope to break the "stereotype" mould by showing them as fallible human beings as well as professionals.

The Practice - UK series
Brigit Forsyth as Dr Judith Vincent, John Fraser as Dr Lawrence Golding and Stuart Richman as a police sergeant

'They work as a team but they are powerful individuals with shifting loyalties and attitudes to each other and their work. They stories they portray allow us to present what has increasingly come to be the reality of contemporary medical practice. That is as much about moral, legal and social problems as about medicine and health care strictly and narrowly understood.

'The cases combine real human predicaments (each story was said to be based on real case history) with medical, moral and legal dilemmas and they have dramatic possibilities quite beyond the usual lives and loves of doctors that form the staple of most series.

'They also fascinatingly mirror contemporary debate about the role of medicine and reflect current interest in the unaccustomed roles in which doctors now find themselves - as much questioned as questioning.'

The series didn't perform particularly well during its initial 34 episode run on Friday and Sunday evenings in 1985 but returned for a second series the following year. However, it was finally struck off the schedule after another 13 episodes. 

The BBC revived the format of life in and around the the staff and patients of a medical centre far more successfully with Doctors, which (at the time of writing) has been going strong since 2000.

Published on January 21st, 2019. Written by Malcolm Alexander for Television Heaven.