The last installment of 'The Royal' on the 31st July 2011 was clearly not the intended final episode as we were all left frustrated with the 'what happened next' factor? Fortunately the series is captured on DVD beginning with the 2003 Series 1 spin-off of another captivating Sunday-Nighter, 'Heartbeat'. St Aidan's Royal Free Hospital, actually located by the sea in Scarborough, always looked like a cottage hospital coping with major trauma and emergencies in the most unlikely setting and circumstances. The superb cast and script flowed with enormous humour and entertainment and carried the scenario, sealing a loyal following.
The seven episodes commence with administrator T.J.Middleton (Ian Carmichael) working with the marvellous matron,always 'Matron' never a real name, (Wendy Craig) authoritatively in command. The medical team of Dr Jill Wetherill (Amy Roberts), Dr David Cheriton (Julian Ovendon) Dr Gordon Ormerod (Robert Davis) along with the eccentric pipe smoking Mr Rose (Dennis Lill), who can diagnose and operate on seemingly anything even with his pipe in an abdomen along with a scalpel, supply the ingredients of a successful drama. Staff Nurse Taylor (Zoie Kennedy) and later welcome addition of Irish Nun, Sister Brigid, (Linda Armstrong) provide 'hospitable' counterfoils for the other acts. Malingerer Claude Greengrass (Bill Maynard) from 'Heartbeat' adds some comical touches (although he can be irksome at times) along with the scanty portering staff. Michelle Hardwick (Lizzie Kennoway ) adds more than a touch of appeal. We go through roof-top falls, motorbike crashes, rat infestations, car accidents,coffin fits, misdiagnoses, abandoned babies, threats of hospital closure, melodramatic interactions with staff. All borne with fortitude and hence continued survival of 'The Royal'.
The series matured with some changes in personnel to develop it's own identity. More, please, (doubtful) but if these DVD's and others have to do us, they do it with great charm especially with the interplay, friction, romance, ambition,stamina and patient care in an intimate hospital setting. Having been a hospital doctor for forty years the poignancy and recognition of the 'Royal' personalities are plausible in real life, adding to its vibrant character. Marvellous.