The Royal: Goodbye Mr Rose

The final scene

AND so we say farewell to The Royal.

ITV1’s long-running 1960s’ drama ended on Sunday evening with a cliffhanger worthy of the Scarborough rocks by the real life location for Elsinby’s St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital.

Stabbed Dr Gordon Ormerod (Robert Daws) lay at death’s door on the operating table as Mr Rose (Denis Lill) battled to save his life.

Gordon’s tearful wife Dr Jill Weatherill (Amy Robbins) watching through a window, supported by ever marvellous Matron (Wendy Craig).

“That was really unfinished,” declared my own disbelieving wife as the final credits rolled.

Knowing that we will now never find out if dear old Gordon’s alive – or not.

Dr Gordon Ormerod (Robert Daws)

She, like me, has been a fan of the show since the start.

And as a nurse, always impressed by the accuracy of the period medical equipment seen on screen and the hospital storylines.

I attended the press launch for the very first series of The Royal, when it was still partly attached to police cousin Heartbeat.

Having the pleasure of interviewing many cast members and production staff over the years that followed.

Cover of the autumn 2003 press launch pack for series three.

Unfashionable The Royal was never going to win the applause of TV critics lost in admiration for The Wire.

Like Heartbeat, it was looked down on as a soft, formulaic drama, not worthy of serious consideration.

An easy target to attack – even if you had only caught half an episode several years ago.

Was The Royal past its sell-by date? Perhaps. Though I’m not totally convinced.

What I do know is that the series, and those involved in making it, were underestimated by many who never bothered to watch the results of their hard work.

The Royal was skillfully put together by a talented team, both in front of and behind the cameras, and entertained millions.

Under the watchful eyes of producer Ken Horn and executive producer Keith Richardson.

Telling recognisable human stories that struck a chord with its audience.

An hour of TV that all the family could watch, also providing many children with their first experience of a “grown-up” drama series.

It may have been relatively undemanding. But there’s nothing wrong with that on a Sunday night.

And there was nothing wrong with the quality of acting – witness Linda Armstrong as Sister Brigid in what turned out to be the last ever episodes.

The end.

At the very least The Royal and its viewers deserved a proper farewell.

Not one filmed in 2009, before its ultimate fate was known, and held back from the screen until a quiet summer’s evening two years later.

On balance, I’ll miss Mr Rose and his pipe the most.

A man both Gordon, and I, would surely trust with our lives.

Mr Rose (Denis Lill)
Dr Jill Weatherill (Amy Robbins)
Matron (Wendy Craig)
Sister Brigid (Linda Armstrong)
Lizzie Hopkirk (Michelle Hardwick)
Alun Morris (Andy Wear)

Personally, I like to think that…

Although as one reader has pointed out, the use of Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig In The Sky over the closing titles may have been a clue that Gordon ultimately suffered the same fate as the series:

The Royal


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