Some of my favorite type of television show are those that provide historical information through a fictional drama. Many of them are available from streaming subscriptions and for purchase on DVD too. We all know how Downtown Abbey has become a hit show and although it is the sensational drama that brings many of us to the screen, underlying it all is the history. I am going to attempt to highlight one of these programs each Saturday in place of my “What Happened on” post (Sometimes in addition).
Do you have any favorite programs that fit this category? I’d love to hear your ideas and I would be glad to include the program in an up coming post. I also would welcome a guest blogger.
I discovered this show last year on my Amazon Prime subscription. In the United States the show was call London Hospital so it wasn’t until I began research for today’s blog post that I found out it was called Casualty 1906, 1907 and 1909. These three series were grouped into two seasons of London Hospital. It is a spinoff miniseries of a highly successful modern day drama on BBC, Casualty.
As in my previous post about Call the Midwife, this drama also takes place in a poor area of London. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the drama places the viewer in the Receiving Room of The London Hospital in London’s East End. The drama is shot with the pace and action of its modern day counterpart and namesake, Casualty, but every case and character is based on cases, characters and events taken from the actual hospital records, nurses’ Ward Diaries and intimate memoirs. Casualty 1909, like its preceding series, is an unbroken experience of life with pioneering doctors and nurses a hundred years ago amongst the desperately poor.
Casualty 1900s portrays the use of early anesthesia, predominately chloroform and ether, the first standardized use of spinal anesthesia, and the growing need for trained anesthetists. No electronic equipment means doctors have to physically check a patient’s pulse during surgery. CPR is largely based on the Silvester Method in which a patient’s arms are raised above their head and then back down in an effort to stimulate muscles. With penicillin still undiscovered, infections such as Erysipelas are largely incurable. Emphasis is placed on keeping wards and operating theaters clean.
The hospital is shown to have an X-ray room complete with X-ray machine. At the time protection against radiation emitted from such a machine was inadequate, little more than a thick pair of gloves was standard. Earnest Wilson, portrayed by Jason Watkins, was one of Britain’s first radiologists and is shown with burns to both hands due to the unsafe levels he must work with.