The start of tonight's Emergency Ward 10 is almost like a workplace training film showing what not to do in the operating theatre. Louise Mahler's not concentrating on the job at hand, her mind elsewhere, while the sister keeps rushing out to answer a series of bizarre phone calls for ultra-serious Guy Marshall (Tom Adams) from his girlfriend Barbara Dodge, who seems to have had a bit too much to drink. Anaesthetist Dr Beckett (Geoffrey Colvile) makes some ribald remarks, and the operating theatre descends into hysterics. Call me a killjoy but these are not quite the circumstances under which I would want to be operated on.
Luckily the operation appears to be a success. The thing occupying Louise's mind is her boyfriend, Giles Farmer, in particular the fact that he proposed to her the previous evening. She hasn't given an answer yet, and as he's not able to talk at the moment she makes a phone call to her brother, Commonwealth Office bigwig Sir John Malakawe.
Giles is busy with the case of young Robert Seaton (an early soap appearance for Brian Hewlett, who would join The Archers 10 years later as Neil Carter and is still there today). He's got a nasty case of bronchial pneumonia, and his evasiveness about his medical history has incurred the wrath of scary consultant Dr Grant.
Giles eventually gets away to chat with Louise. She's still not giving him an answer, but suggests they meet that evening.
Here's Mr Seaton having some pus removed ("You have got some muck in there, haven't you?" asks Dr Dorsey). He's going to have surgery to remove his abscess, and is none too pleased about it.
Doctors Grant and Dorsey have a little chat after the syringing's done, with Giles overhearing Grant's attempts to secure Dorsey's favour for his bid to become chair of the medical committee instead of his hated rival Harold de la Roux. Note that Dr Dorsey is smoking an enormous cigar. In the hospital. If you ask me, the NHS has been going downhill ever since they stopped this sort of thing.
The scene shifts now to Mario's, the trendy eaterie whose clientele seems to consist entirely of hospital staff. Maybe they should have called it Dr Mario's (that's a terrible and anachronistic Nintendo joke). Nurse Jane Beattie is pouring her heart out over the squeezy tomato to her friend Michaela Davis. She's hopelessly in love with Oxbridge's resident lothario Rex Lane-Russell, even though she knows he's bound to break her heart. I'm sure Michaela's top was seen in The Larkins a few weeks back.
Their tete-a-tete is interrupted by gauche Welsh intern Ivor Gittings, who's picked the worst possible moment to invite Jane to the pictures.
Lester Large proves more successful with his attempt at interesting the young ladies in the cheap seats, and the three of them decamp with Ivor in tow (much to Les's disgust).
That comic aside over with, we get down to the business of Giles' proposal, he and Louise having also chosen Mario's as their place of rendezvous. It's still looking like it could go either way. "You're comfortable, but you're stimulating too," Louise tells Giles (a reference I'm sure any of us would be happy to get). He thinks he's getting the brush-off, but she assures him she just wants to know he's serious in what he's asking - she'd expected a much longer courtship, and is rather more pessimistic about the problems they'd face as an interracial couple. Plus, coming from a very family-oriented society, it's important to Louise that she get the blessing of her brother as head of the family. As ever in Emergency Ward 10, it's the background characters that draw the eye, in this case a chain-smoking lady who seems to be trying very hard not to look like she's listening to the conversations of the speaking parts.
We move now to the rather bizarre scene of Sir John Malakawe, dressed up for a Commonwealth do, popping in for a visit to the humble home of Giles' father. The debonair, cigarette holder-waving Sir John is played by the enormous Frank Olegario in a no doubt welcome change to the silent (literal) heavies he's usually called on to essay. He doesn't think the match of Louise and Giles is at all suitable (though for class rather than race reasons), and wants to enlist Mr Farmer's help in putting a stop to it. The old man, despite his previous racist outbursts, is now greatly taken with Louise, but, in awe of the sheer grandeur of his visitor, finds himself getting swept up in his plans.
At the caff, Giles and Louise say goodbye for the night. For the first time, he tells her loves her. Her response: "Oh Giles, bless you." Oddly enough he seems quite happy with that.
And, believe it or not, Emergency Ward 10 will be back next week.