Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Casualty: ‘real time’ episode – ‘we’ve got a stedicam!’

Hoary old telly warhorse Casualty proved it's still got a bit of go in it as it sprang into life with its episode Momentum, billed as being ‘in real time’.

This means that the onscreen drama unfolded across 50 - I want to write 'heart-stopping' but I'm not a press release - minutes in the A&E department of Holby General, matching the 50 minute duration of the episode.

And when you make 47 episodes a year, little novelty tricks like this ensure a bit of extra attention.

So the writers ramped up the drama to match, with the stabbing of a regular cast member, Polly, by a deranged patient, Hannah.

No nurses contemplating the quality of the lunch menu or pondering the future values of their pensions here.

And although it felt a lot like a regular episode of the programme, with long tracking shots along corridors, ambulance crew moaning a bit, and all round general scenes of import and gravity played out by actors with stethoscopes, it was only in the second half did things really perk up, when the director got out the stedicam.

Breathless, shaky shots as the nurses rushed to save Polly, bleeding to death in the disused hospital basement, intercut with Beth Goddard as perpetrator Hannah, doing her best ‘mental’ acting – thank God she signed up for that particular class at drama school – and the struggle to save Polly, were all genuinely involving, and built to a tense, then sad, then 'oh!', ending, all designed to make us watch next week.

We won't be though – tv ooh doesn’t really like hospitals.

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