Monday, 1 September 2014

Tuesday 1 September 1964

At Oxbridge hospital tonight, the highly strung Mr Seaton's preparing to have the pus drained from his bronchial tubes, and Louise is still agonising over whether to marry Giles.  She's off to try and get her brother's consent, as she tells him in an exchange weirdly shot by Shaun Riordan with each of them talking straight to camera.

Anaesthetist Dr Beckett terrifies Mr Seaton further by telling him about the process by which part of his body will be put to sleep.  Recent engineering graduate Mr Seaton reveals the cause of his fears: he got a terrible degree, but has been lucky enough to get an offer of work out East.  If chronic, his condition could lose him this chance.

Dr Grant's still trying to get Dr Dorsey's support for his bid to be chair of the medical board, and is kindly but definitively told to stop bothering him about it.

What with Giles' romantic issues, Les can't get him to commit to their motoring holiday, despite having already booked the hotels.  And is if that wasn't drama enough, Les's hair's really sticking out at the back this week.

Mr Seaton's anaesthetised, and decides that being operated on isn't that bad after all.

Louise and her brother meet at the Royal hotel to talk, but are interrupted by Barbara Dodge (Marti Stevens), the absurdly glamorous American girlfriend of Louise's colleague Guy Marshall, who invites them to her suite for a drink.

"Now he's going to scrape off the membrane..."

Marti Stevens' hair and makeup exert a strange fascination: I was stunned to learn she was only 31 when she appeared in Emergency Ward 10, she looks 20 years older.  Nearly 20 years older, but not looking it, is actress Doris Nolan, whose brief stint in Hollywood included the role of the snooty socialite who loses Cary Grant to her bohemian sister Katharine Hepburn in Holiday (1938).  She plays Barbara's assistant Lydia Stock (watching this episode alone it's not clear what she does that requires an assistant), who warns her that Guy isn't the right man for her.

Giles eventually gets to meet with his hulking prospective brother-in-law.  "The purpose of this meeting is largely to look at each other," announces Sir John.  I get the feeling it probably hurt both of their necks a bit to do so.  Louise's brother decides he's not totally against the marriage, but makes it clear that he expects Louise to return to Africa (I don't know if it's ever been specified which part of Africa she comes from or if that vast continent's being treated like a single country, as it so often is).  For Sir John, his sister is "An image of the new Africa".

Barbara and Guy get close in her suite, but are interrupted by a call from the hospital - a baby's been admitted with an intestinal obstruction, and Guy's required to remove it.

Barbara's not too pleased about her man leaving her to save the life of a littl'un, and proceeds to go all Joan Crawford on him: "You can't leave me tonight, Guy! Not tonight.  You can't!... Go on to your simple operation, and your blasted baby, and that ridiculous hospital.  And don't bother to come back, Guy.  You hear me? Don't bother to come back!"

The episode's feverish final moments see the operation theatre being prepared (hilariously, the baby is very clearly a doll), Guy rushing through the corridors to get to it, abandoning his clothes as he goes, and a final, heart-wrenching shot of the mother (Anne Lytton), so terrified for her child that she won't even accept a nice cup of tea...

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