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Holby City Case Study

Rob Miller | Monday November 05, 2012

Categories: GCSE, Eduqas (WJEC) GCSE, WJEC GCSE Media Studies, A Level, OCR A Level, OCR AS, Key Concepts, Audience, Genre, Institutions, Media Language, Narrative, Representation & Stereotyping, Hot Entries, Television, Medical Drama, Television Drama

Holby City is a BBC produced British Medical Drama set in the fictional Holby City Hospital near Bristol, close to the Welsh border. It concerns the lives and ups and downs of its staff, patients and Doctors and borrows heavily from the conventions of the soap opera (see Genre). Initially broadcast in January 1999 it is now currently in its 15th series and is aired weekly on a Tuesday night in 60 minute format in HD (from 2010) during prime time at 8pm – filming is all year long for a minimum of 50 weeks from 8am to 6pm and like many long running programmes has a factory output approach to production, employing both established actors like Patsy Kensit and Robert Powell over the years and also actors relatively new to the profession.

Initially Holby City secured strong ratings with the first episode attracting 9.2 million viewers but has now settled into an average rating of around 5.5 million which still just about justifies its prime time slot. Not without awards however, Holby City won a 2008 award for Best Continuing Drama. The programme is a spin off from the successful Casualty but also has connections with Eastenders not just because of the soap conventions employed but because of actors that have appeared in both and also the fact that, like Eastenders it is filmed at BBC Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. A not so successful Police Crime Drama Holby Blue was a short lived spin off from Holby City and an attempt to clone the commercially successful format of ITV’s The Bill (1984-2010).

In terms of production values Holby City is relatively low compared to many high production value TV Dramas, e.g. period dramas like Downton Abbey. It costs £350,000 to film per episode compared to £130,000 for Eastenders reflecting the more complex set design and objects and props as part of the mise-en-scene, e.g. recreating an Operating Theatre and also the research required to create a form of realism – sets however can be re-used to...

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