Casualty @ Holby City: DoNation special, BBC1

by | Aug 27, 2005 | All, Reviews

What was it?

Another of those joint ventures where characters from the BBC’s Casualty and Holby City medi-dramas (who supposedly work in the same hospital) try desperately to act as if they’ve ever clapped eyes on each other before. This time it was to promote the good cause of organ donation, with You The Public give a phone-vote on which of two candidates got a heart transplant.

What to say if you liked it.

A moving portrayal of the agonies faced by the families of prospective donors, and those on the waiting lists for transplants. Introduced by TV super-doc Professor Robert Winston.

What to say if you didn’t like it.

A tear-jerking attempt to overcome the widespread suspicion that medics switch the life-support off earlier if they think they can nick your innards for spare parts. Introduced by TV super-doc Professor Robert Winston.

What was good about it?

• It certainly showed the agony of life on the transplant list, although this has already been covered quite extensively in Holby.

• It certainly showed the agony of the choice facing prospective donors’ loved ones, although this has already been covered quite extensively in Casualty.

• It was informative (in a slightly public-service-broadcast way). Did you know that, even if you carry a donor card, you still need to sign the donor register – and even then, your next of kin has the final say?

• It featured appearances by Steven Pinder, looking as suave yet oddly spineless as he did when he was the great Maxie Farnham in Brookside, and the equally great Hywel Bennett, star of 70s sitcom Shelley, who’s matured into the Most Evil-Looking Bloke On Telly.

• Voting only cost 10p. If this had been Channel 4, it’d have been 25p (‘with 10p going to charity’), and the ad breaks would have been so long that both transplant candidates would have died anyway.

What was bad about it?

• It was basically a retread of 1,001 other hospital drama transplant stories. It was fairly obvious that the grieving widow would have a sudden change of heart and consent to the donation, otherwise there’d have been no point in voting on who got the transplant.

• It didn’t actually convince us that medics don’t get twitchy round the ‘off’ button once they’ve found a donor card. Sure, they did their best in this episode, but in real life this is the medical profession that, not all that long ago, thought it was OK to remove dead babies’ hearts and not tell the parents. It’s going to take more than this to win the public’s trust.

• The public voted (by 65% to 35%) for the wrong transplant candidate. Teenager Lucy had her whole life in front of her, with plenty of time to get transplanted into, say, EastEnders as the stroppy daughter of a local gangster, but Maxie – sorry, Tony – was 42, and a couple of episodes of Holby, thanking Connie Beauchamp for the successful op, were all he had to look forward to.

• Calling it ‘interactive’ was pushing things a bit. We voted, they ran one of two pre-canned endings. It was hardly the forefront of digital broadcasting.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

27/08/2005

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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