Television Review

ALLEGEDLY, HOLBY CITY (BBC1) is a spin-off from Casualty; but in what sense is open to debate. It doesn't have the same production team - isn't even made in the same part of Britain - or any of the same stars. True, a girl who went into a coma in last week's Casualty turned up three days later, still completely immobile, in Holby City. And, every so often the viewer gets a distant glimpse of Charlie Fairhead, flitting like some exotic bird across the scenery. But, for the most part, the relationship seems to be a purely notional device for guaranteeing a basic level of ratings - likewise the casting of former soap stars Michael French and Angela Griffin.

Still, it's a creditably smart and efficient piece of engineering, and I probably ought to admit to taking a sneaky, no-brainer pleasure from it. The storylines push the plausibility boat out a little too far, perhaps, and the writers are too ready to stoop to cliche (week two, and already Nick Jordan and the new ward sister are having hissed conversations about how she wouldn't have taken the job if she'd known he was working there). What's interesting, though, is how far the plots revolve around smart-arsed, over-ambitious young doctors being put in their place by people who may not be so clever, but know more about life. Cocky surgical registrar Nick Jordan inadvertently stoked up a row between a terminal patient's children and their stepmother, and was put in his place by the new ward sister. Meanwhile, academically bright Dr Merrick scared a patient witless with ideas about a rare and incurable nervous disorder, before the patient set her straight with homespun wisdom accumulated over a lifetime in hairdressing. Only Mr Meyer, the consultant surgeon, is allowed to get away with being clever; but he is a heartless automaton.

When comparing Holby City with the real-life medical drama of Monday night's Trauma Team (ITV), what strikes you is the degree of convergence between the genres of fiction and documentary. Trauma Team, set in the accident and emergency department of the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, follows what would once have been the conventions of popular drama. It sets up a number of concurrent storylines as the doctors cope with a mixture of domestic and professional traumas. Even the jump-cuts and nauseous lurches into close-up, which would once have given it the stamp of authenticity, have since been appropriated by drama. Here they feel like a pose, a style which has been chosen rather than imposed by working conditions. It didn't help that this week's opening episode began on such a sensational note, with a man who had had his arm bitten off by a tiger and, unscripted, gave the answer "tigers" when asked if he was allergic to anything. By contrast, Holby City seems a very conservative piece of film-making, and far more concerned to show the viewer authentically gruesome surgery. The line between fiction and documentary hasn't vanished yet, but it's fading. That surely can't be healthy.

A similar desire to dress up the facts afflicted Station X (C4), a new four-parter about the code-breaking operations at Bletchley Park. It opened with a reconstruction of the night in 1946 when all Bletchley Park's documentation was burned to prevent the secret getting out. Then, later on, we were treated to odd little dramatised moments - shots of hands moving across tables strewn with tea-cups, the air thick with cigarette smoke - apparently to express the idea of intrigue. As far as the actual mechanics of code- breaking and the Enigma machine went, the programme wimped out a little - its explanations were too brief to make the technicalities penetrable. You wondered if the producers really respected the viewers' intelligence, particularly when the commentary felt it necessary to refer to "the Italian Fascist, Mussolini".

This was compensated for, though, by the codebreakers themselves - elderly, respectable people who looked back with a winning mixture of pride and embarrassment at the bright young things they were. One told how, when an admiral came to congratulate the code-breakers, they spent their time manoeuvring him into leaning against a recently whitewashed wall. And I liked the story of the marine biologist, recruited because his speciality was cryptogams - a primitive life-form - and somebody thought that that was the same as cryptograms. Truly, this was our finest hour.

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home