Saturday, 21 December 2013

Theme Time : Ken Freeman - Holby City

Casualty, the BBC's flagship medical drama (which still remains one of the channel's mainstays to this day) had been running for thirteen years when show writer Tony McHale and then head of serial drama Mal Young decided a spin off detailing what went on beyond the corridors of Holby Accident and Emergency - covering other wards of the hospital - should go into production. 

The result, Holby City, premiered on BBC1 Tuesday 12th January 1999 and for the first three series ran for 9, 16 and 30 episodes per series respectively. By the fourth series, the show became an all year round production with series running at 52 episodes per year in the 8pm Tuesday night slot. Come January 2014, the show will be fifteen years old.

I'm a fan, but I must admit that throughout its history the quality has often been variable. The first three years were very strong thanks to it being both a new show (albeit one based on/linked to an existing format) and to the show's star, the aloof and acerbic cardiothoracic surgeon Anton Meyer (played beautifully by George Irving) When the character left in 2002 the show's appeal plummeted - certainly for me. It continued to have both its troughs and its peaks over the years culminating in what has been, up until the middle of this year, what I believe to have been a supremely high quality of entertainment for the last 18 months/two years, mixing tense medical drama with aspects of hospital politics and brilliantly written comedy with elements of soap opera and social issues. 

The show is, and has always been, an ensemble piece as befits the longevity of it and the focus on several hospital departments. Over the years many actors have performed in the show including Robert Powell, Michael French, Clive Mantle, Phyllis Logan, Siobhan Redmond, Patsy Kensit, Hugh Quarshie, Susannah York, Paul Bradley and Ade Edmondson (with guest actors including David Soul, Antonio Fargas, Clarke Peters, Michael Fassbender, Richard Briers, Eric Sykes, Lionel Jeffries, Phill Jupitus, Ronald Pickup, Leslie Phillips and Sheridan Smith) That said, one of the main reasons to watch - even when the show is in a bit of a dip in terms of quality - is of course Rosie Marcel's wonderfully consistent performance as Jac Naylor, the strong willed CT surgeon who first appeared on our screens in 2005. Marcel is a brilliant actress, in both the show's dramatic and comedic moments, but it also helps that she's very easy on the eye too 

The show's composer is Ken Freeman, the same man who scored the show's big brother, Casualty way back in 1986. Freeman is known in the rock world as the man behind the synthesisers on Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds album and the inventor of the string synth. 

Unfortunately there isn't much available on Youtube to display the tune, other than the credits that accompany the programme. So here are the opening and closing credits from a 2006 episode...

However, Scott Ciccone has produced an extended mix of the theme which can be enjoyed here...

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