Often referred to as a landmark television series, St Elsewhere is still being shown on UK television 30 years after the programme was first broadcast.
Set in the fictional hospital of St Eligius in Boston, this is an American medical drama which uses ensemble casts and overlapping storylines – one of the first hit TV shows to do this.
It is very similar to another popular series called Hill Street Blues which was broadcast at the same time and featured the police at work in a new way.
However, St Elsewhere wasn’t a huge TV hit for the makers when first broadcast despite picking up lots of awards, including 13 Emmys, but the 137 episodes have been syndicated widely around the world since.
St Elsewhere stars William Daniels, Norman Lloyd and Ed Flanders as teaching doctors helping students make life or death decision over their patients.
The script showed a realistic side of life in a hospital with gritty scenes and black comedy and the show was hailed as the best drama series of the 1980s by the magazine ‘TV Guide’.
The hospital was located in a poor neighbourhood and its name St Elsewhere is the slang term given by better funded hospitals to less well-equipped hospitals which would accept every patient who came through the doors.
Even the patients and staff tend not to think a lot of the hospital and regularly deface a shrine to Saint Eligius.
St Elsewhere set the template for other more famous medical dramas which followed such as Chicago Hope and ER by showing a stressed medical profession handling life-and-death situations as best they can with limited skills and resources.
The storylines for St Elsewhere not only featured medical drama but also took a close interest in the personal lives of the doctors and nurses, often over several episodes.
St Elsewhere is regularly repeated, most recently by More4 and is available on 4oD, Channel 4’s on-demand video service.