Frequently Asked Questions
We love to receive your questions about all things Doctors; here is a selection of the most frequently asked questions about the show, submitted by you, the viewer, and answered by the Doctors production team.
With Doctors airing all year round, we believe the viewer expects the show to feature relevant events such as Christmas and Halloween. It is these seasonal episodes that give the impression that the show is ‘real time’.
However, we film each series between January and November and because of the amount of post production required following shooting, before transmission, combined with the unpredictability of the British weather, we are out of sync. Letherbridge is something of a seasonal anomaly!
Episodes are shot in groups of threes – a 'block'. Each block has the same director, producer and crew and it takes seven days to shoot the three episodes.
Most of the time, there will be two blocks shooting simultaneously, but during some parts of the year, there are three blocks shooting (known as 'triple banking').
In these periods, our regular actors can be juggling up to nine different episodes simultaneously! Editing takes approximately two weeks after the end of the shoot and includes picture edit, music, sound etc.
We have no plans for a live episode at the moment.
Unfortunately the BBC has a policy of not releasing on-going series of current shows on DVD. However, there are a plethora of clips and videos in the clips section of our website – with more still to come!
No, we've mentioned and featured other surgeries in the area, particularly Sutton Vale. But yes, the surgeries do serve a very large patient database, but then – they have to supply us with 230 stories a year!
They are unique; we have a very talented costume department who make most of Heston’s bow ties and waistcoats, although they do sometimes buy items they think fit with Heston’s style.
Also some fans have been known to send them in, which is very flattering and some do get used in the show.
Due to a very heavy filming schedule, Doctors doesn't offer tours of the set.
We use experienced television writers for Doctors as we do not have the time or resources to train brand new writers. If you’re interested in writing, we recommend you take a look at the BBC writersroom website which has all kinds of insights and articles on the subject.
We would have more time. More time to write, more time to rehearse, more time to film and so on. Lack of time is our biggest obstacle on this show.
If our pot of gold had anything left, we’d have more extras – the surgery waiting rooms would always be full! And we would be able to afford more characters in an episode and more stunts such as explosions and crashes.
Writers come up with ideas in a number of ways. Some want to write about a specific illness or condition; others start with a character story and find an illness that fits. There’s no right or wrong method, but in most cases, the writer will pitch us their story and we take it from there.
It goes without saying that these are all carefully researched and we do our best to represent illnesses as realistically as possible given the parameters of the show’s format. Things do happen a lot faster in Doctors world; appointments, test results etc. These are necessary shortcuts for storytelling purposes. Imagine the alternative – we would just have a sequence of ten minute consultations and then nothing for a few weeks – not conducive to telling a story in one day!
We know that getting an appointment quickly is unusual, though we do make it clear that our surgeries have regular 'drop in' surgeries that work on a first come first served basis – real GP practices do use this.
For home visits, in reality they are booked way in advance and can often be locums. But for story purposes we do cut this corner too – again, imagine the alternative: suddenly a new doctor we don’t know comes into the story half way through, or the patient has to wait a week for a home visit – not very satisfactory. We are constrained by the format – where each story happens over the course of a day, but we hope that the audience understand that taking such liberties makes for a better, more satisfying episode.
The simple answer to this is budget – we cannot follow every patient through the course of a long illness or condition simply because we cannot afford to employ an actor for this length of time. We have a large cast of regulars at the moment and we are at our limit.
However, we do try to follow some conditions over a period of time in the serial elements of the show – Sam Reid being the most recent example. But we also had Julia’s Lyme disease, Ruth’s mental health, Jimmi’s OCD etc.
We do our best to represent and utilise disabled actors and are always seeking new ways to represent them – in a positive and negative light, concentrating on their condition, or making that entirely incidental. It’s a continuing work in progress.
2012 was tumultuous as many correspondents have pointed out. Be assured, this was not a mass firing! It was just unfortunate in terms of timing that a large number of cast members decided they wanted to move on. We knew that Di, Charlie and Nick were ready to go and their exits were planned quite early. It was something of a shock that Sophie, Janet and Lu all wanted to leave as well and we did our best to stagger the exits and make them as varied as possible.
But it gave us an opportunity to create some interesting new characters who we hope the audience will grow to love.
For further thoughts on this, see the website blog ‘Damn David’.
Al was designed to be very much a Marmite character. And who says we only have to have nice doctors? We were interested in creating a character that smokes, eats junk food and has a poor bedside manner: is frankly quite rude. But he’s still an effective doctor. Ian Midlane has done marvellous things with Al already, and it’s only the beginning. Al has a major story coming up which will surprise many people.
Remember, when Zara first started, people hated her.
To watch video clips on the Doctors site, you'll need Flash. To install the latest free version onto your computer, check out our BBC Webwise guide.
Please be aware that Doctors video clips are only accessible to UK licence fee payers. International users will receive an error message when they try to access these clips.
The BBC provides signed cast photographs for free. To get your favourite actor's autograph, please follow these steps:
Write your letter to the actor.
Send your letter to:
Name of actor (e.g. Jan Pearson),
BBC Drama Production,
1059 Bristol Road,
Mark the top left-hand corner of the envelope with the word 'Autograph'.
Make sure you include a self-addressed envelope - with your name and address clearly written.
If you want to write to more than one actor, you must write a separate letter to each cast member.
Please be patient when waiting for your reply as it can depend on the actors' schedules.
Sorry - the show only uses professional actors.
The Doctors website is not responsible for any of the content which appears in the programme.
For complaints concerning the programme, please contact:
PO Box 1922,
Tel: 03700 100 222.
Find out more about how to complain to the BBC.