Silent night, Holby night…
Many of you probably know that I am something of a fan of the British medical drama series Casualty. These days, the show is sometimes so bad that I wonder why I don’t pack it in, but the two-part Christmas special that ran last night and tonight reminded me why I still tune in every week. These episodes were written by Barbara Machin, the creator of the excellent Waking the Dead and one of the show’s regular writers when it was at its peak, and she managed to deliver something that I’d thought the show was no longer capable of: cutting-edge, intense drama (as opposed to the soap we tend to be served up). It was like stepping into a time machine and going back a decade or so to when the show was of a consistently high standard and something that was unmissable television rather than the schedule-filler it so often seems to be now.
The concept itself is something that I’m sure has been done before in countless other shows, but nonetheless felt fresh and unique. Essentially, it told the same story from the perspective of three different characters, one after the other, with the focus shifting each time it was replayed, allowing the audience to see things that hadn’t been apparent before. Obviously, having every episode play like this would be pointless, which is what what really pleased me was the quality of the drama itself. Characters who had, for months or years, been stuck in the background or were written completely out of character, came to the forefront and seemed like their old selves again. I never expected this show to ever again amaze me and have me absolutely gripped, but I have no happily been proved wrong. This was not just the best episode of Casualty in years but one of the finest television programmes I’ve seen all year. I am, quite literally, stunned.