Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Theme Time : Alan Parker - Angels

Angels was a BBC drama series which ran from 1975 to 1978, before returning as a twice weekly soap opera from 1979 to 1983. Described as 'the Z Cars of nursing', the show could be considered a forerunner to the likes of Casualty and Holby City which achieved greater success in the 1980s and '90s and continue as flagship programmes for the BBC to this day. 

Devised by Paula Milne, the first three years of the show were set in Battersea and St Angela's Hospital (which is how the series got its name) and followed the private and professional lives of six student nurses. The programme helped launch a succession of actresses such as Lesley Dunlop, Fiona Fullerton, Pauline Quirke and Angela Bruce, who remain TV staples to this day.

The conversion from 50 minute weekly drama to twice weekly episodes of 25 minutes each was helmed by soap supremos Julia Smith and Tony Holland (who would go on to create EastEnders two years after time was finally called on Angels, and later would be responsible for the infamous flop Eldorado) and saw the setting switch from St Angela's to Heath Green Hospital, Birmingham. During this tenure the show was committed to tackling authentic issues hitherto unseen in the soap opera and medical drama format. Contraception, alcoholism and promiscuity all featured as part of the nurses lives much to the disgust of those who felt the show was painting the nursing profession as an unglamourous one. Smith defended the tone and her programme well, stating "There are a lot of tensions in a young nurse's life; it's no wonder some turn to drink. When you're eighteen you've got a lot of growing up to do"

The show's theme tune entitled Motivation was by Alan Parker. A deeply catchy tune, it still crops up regularly on TV as standard library music now, and, comparable to other hit programmes of the day such as The Sweeney, suggests the intentions of realism in the changing face of 70s television.

The first two series of Angels have recently been released on DVD


  1. I never really cottoned to that version, the original arrangement was slower and denser, and I thought it caught the mood far better...

    1. I can't find any other versions on youtube? It does ring a bell though. Mind you, I don't have that great a recollection of Angels beyond UK Gold rpts in the 90s. I may have to purchase the DVDs. Are they worth it do you think?

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTczLIo-GKw