London Hospital

UKTV – Wednesdays from 4 March, 8.30pm

Romance, surgery and history combine in this vivid, atmospheric drama based on the lives and case notes of doctors, nurses and patients at the Royal London Hospital a century ago.

Set in the heart of the East End amid horrific danger and poverty – when illnesses such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, measles, syphilis, diphtheria are rife – Whitechapel life tumbles daily through the emergency room doors in victims of violence, suicide, drink and drugs.

This drama centres on characters who reflect the social and medical crossroads of this time. Stories include those of emergency room nurse Ada Russell, who faces a tough dilemma of whether or not to marry Dr James Walton – with nursing regarded as a sacred profession and relationships not permitted between staff, one or other of them would have to leave if their relationship is discovered. Matron Eva

Luckes faces a series of crises as a nurse dies from an illness caught on the wards and a sister has a nervous breakdown. And Sydney Holland, the hospital chairman, must deal with a constant struggle to raise funds for the largest emergency hospital in Britain.

The themes of funding crises, terrorist threats, medical advances and deadly infections still resonate today, but in many ways this is a shocking and foreign world. Through extreme hardship shines a spirit of forbearance and self-sacrifice that seems remarkable now.

Stars: Sarah Smart (At Home with the Braithwaites, Funland); Cherie Lunghi Excalibur, The Manageress, Cutting It); Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility); William Houston (Elizabeth: The Golden Age); Tom Riley (I Want Candy); Nicholas Farrell (Persuasion, The Treasure Seekers).