The BBC celebrates ten years of Doctors this week, with special programmes looking back at the first decade of the Midland soap. The BBC also revealed today in a press release that Doctor Who actress Annette Badland is to star in the saga during its celebratory year.
Set in the fictional Midlands town of Letherbridge, Doctors regularly attracts up to two million loyal viewers a day who follow the daily lives and loves of the staff and their patients at the Mill and Campus surgeries. The series reached a ratings high in 2009 when 3.6 million tuned in for an episode.
In the week that Doctors celebrates its 10th anniversary, Doctor Who actress Annette Badland is returning to the soap to record another episode – once more as a special guest star.
Annette is just one name in the long list of famous names to appear in the medical serial based in Birmingham. Over the past 10 years the BBC One daytime soap has seen many guest stars including Honor Blackman, Brian Blessed, Stephanie Powers, Eric Sykes, Tom Watt, Richard Briers, Emma Sykes, Johnny Briggs, Sue Jenkins and Tony Adams – who played Dr Neville Bywaters in the 1970s Midlands hospital saga, General Hospital.
Others lined up to appear this year include a former Emmerdale actress – Alyson Spiro and prolific actress Susannah York. While Badland returns to the show (after a number of previous episode appearances) – the actress most recently featured in a guest role three years ago – the BBC tells us she’ll be playing a new, different, character.
This time Annette stars as parish secretary Angela Lombard in an episode entitled ‘Love Thy Neighbour’.
When a female vicar finds herself on the receiving end of a hate campaign Daniel (played by Matthew Chambers) steps in to help. It turns out to be Angela (played by Annette) who was in love with the previous vicar and is unhappy with the new appointment. The BBC say.
To celebrate Doctors 10th anniversary from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th March a week long series of special short documentaries Decade of Doctors looks back at the last 10 years, and gives an insight into the secrets of the programme’s success.
Presented by Doctors actress Diane Keen – who plays popular character Julia Parsons – the series looks back at the beginnings of the serial at the now demolished iconic Pebble Mill Studios, goes behind the scenes at the current production centre and looks back at some of the memorable storylines and the famous faces that have passed through the doors.
Viewers will see how it took 50 people, including cast, cameramen, make-up and lighting, to make editions of the soap while the documentary was filming.The documentary also looks at the various locations in the series, not just the regular Mill Medical Centre…
The Medical List
- Diane Keen made her name in the Midlands’ other major soap opera – ATV Network’s Crossroads. She starred as motel waitress Sandra Gould who spent a long spell in hospital after the storyline saw Sandra knocked down and paralysed. A long recovery followed, including learning to walk again. [Diane pictured in the famous motel reception area, left]. Keen shares a motel link with Annette Badland – they’ve both played waitresses in the ATV soap. Badland appeared in Crossroads as a waitress called Dawn back in 1978.
- Christopher Timothy played the senior partner at the Riverside surgery when Doctors began 10 years ago as Dr Brendan “Mac” McGuire. Christopher was of course more famous for caring for animals rather than humans when Doctors began following his long running role as Vet James Herriott in BBC drama All Creatures Great and Small. Badland also starred alongside Timothy in one 1989 episode.
The production team on Doctors are proud to boast they, in 2006, made history in British Soapland when they showed the first gay wedding, between characters Greg and Rico. They’re also rather pleased with the show for the fact it won a lot of praise – and even awards – for their portrayal of the rape storyline concerning the character of Vivian.
Often in soaps fiction and fact blur and for Doctors viewers that is no exception. Its noted that a viewer once tried to register as a patient at the fictional Mill surgery.
Doctors airs weekdays at 1.45pm on BBC One and also at 6.00pm on BBC HD. The episode ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ Airs on Monday July 5th 2010.