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.
Why do you pretend it’s the middle of summer when you are obviously filming in winter/spring (ie no leaves on the trees), and vice versa? Couldn't it be done or shown a different way?
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!
How many episodes do you film in a week?
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.
As most of the other big dramas have done, are there any plans for a live episode?
We have no plans for a live episode at the moment.
Will Doctors be released on DVD from series one?
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!
Are The Campus and The Mill Health Centre the only surgeries in Letherbridge? They have a huge number of patients.
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!
Where do you get Heston’s waistcoats from?
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.
Can we have a tour of the set?
It's great that people are keen to see the sets, but sadly this would be impossible. The surgery sets are used so often it would be difficult to schedule; and we also need flexibility due to weather cover or sudden changes.
How do I write for Doctors?
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.
If the show were given more money, what changes would you make?
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.
Stories and shortcuts – many questions on this area, so we’ll try to answer them together.
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.
Why don't you have more episodes with recurring patients with complex medical conditions to show more real life experience of being ill long term - there are numerous fluctuating conditions that the show could highlight by using a specific character and showing them periodically through the good and bad stages of the illness/disability.
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.
Why don’t we have more disabled actors?
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.
Why have there been so many cast changes?
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’.
Hating Dr Al
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.
When is Doctors on?
Visit our Coming Up page to find out when Doctors is next on.
I missed an episode. Where can I catch up?
I can't view the clips! What should I do?
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.
Can you help me with a technical query?
Where can I get autographs?
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.
Can I become an extra for Doctors?
Sorry - the show only uses professional actors.
How do I complain about the TV show?
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.
Where can I discuss Doctors with other fans?
You can talk to other fans on the Doctors Facebook page.
Didn't see your question here?
For further help you can contact us.