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Pulse writer Paul Cornell brings medical horror to BBC Three

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Dana Stevens | 10:09 UK time, Wednesday, 26 May 2010

*You can now watch Pulse online on the blog* Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day here on the BBC Three blog. We're going to be bringing you our first ever online premiere which means you get to see our brand new drama pilots a whole week before they're on telly.
Launching our online premieres is hospital horror, Pulse, which features some great acting and will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. And there's blood. Lots of blood.

If you haven't seen it already, here's a sneak preview from the show...

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So that you can get as excited as I am, here's the lead writer, Paul Cornell to tell you about the inspiration for the show....

I think there's something obvious about Pulse. It's the show that asks 'going into hospital... what's the worst that could happen?' And then it shows you. There's never really been a medical horror show on British television... and there really should be. We are the nation, after all, that's really proud of its NHS, but at the same time looks at those stern official buildings and shivers a little. So... what if there's more to it than understandable fears about what might happen to our bodies when there are scalpels and syringes and sutures about? What if someone, hidden inside that fine institution, has decided that the good of the many, the advancement of medical science, is more important than the suffering of one or two? Pulse is also, incidentally, another show that's been missing for a while: young intern doctors having relationships and messing up. Only this time their relative innocence and hope is set against deep, unseen evil.

The cast of Pulse
I've been lead writer on the series for the last couple of years of its development process (it was originally the idea of the very talented Ben Teasdale and was subsequently worked on by my old mate Tom MacRae) and it's been a pleasure to work with such a brilliant team. The pilot is directed, as you'll see, as a very chilling, echoing, scary thing by the great James Hawes, and getting to watch him working with our cast was a joy. This is the show where we get beautiful, talented young actors and throw buckets of blood over them. That doesn't happen in Casualty. The cast genuinely didn't know how much was going to hit the main operation scene. A lot of the shrieking is real. I also very much like the concentration on emotion, how much story is carried by expression and subtle shots. I don't like to single out performances amongst so much great stuff, but Claire Foy (Hannah) is such a star for us, the centre of the show. Gregg Chillin (the creepy landlord from Being Human, so much sweeter for us) as Rafee is a joy to watch, and Ben Miles (Dr. Sennet) and Caroline Goodall (Ms. Randall) make a great deal out of their short screen time.

What we really hope for, of course, is that this pilot gets a positive reaction online and in the press. So please do let us know what you think once you've watched the show.
This team has been talking about the arc plot of the show for a long time: we know where it's going, we know what the conspiracy is about. We've got a big story to tell.

Paul Cornell is lead writer of Pulse.

Don't forget you can watch Pulse first right here on the BBC Three blog now. And we want you to leave comments and let us know what you think of the show as well.

Pulse will be on TV on BBC Three on Thursday 3rd June at 9pm.

You can watch the other two drama pilots that will premiere online, Dappers and Stanley Park, here on the blog next week.

Add your comment here.


  • Comment number 1.

    I'd been looking forward to Pulse since hearing the name "Paul Cornell" - I'm a big fan of his work on Dr Who and Captain Britain and MI13 - and I was most certainly not disappointed.

    I thought the cast were excellent, the atmosphere and tension was very well presented, and I'm already dying to learn more about the mystery at this hospital ;D

  • Comment number 2.

    i thought that pulse was a grippingly sinister drama that left me wanting to see more, i thought the mix of a realistic setting and plot-line, straight out of torchwood(exept with more adult content)was brilliant. this seems to be a genre that the bbc has mastered of late with such others as torchwood, dr who and also psychoville. hope to see more.

  • Comment number 3.

    I thought it was fantastic, not completely fresh, but amazingly carried out. Please carry it on and show us more!

  • Comment number 4.

    Liked "Pulse" very much. Green light it please!

  • Comment number 5.

    Not bad at all - looking forward to seeing more!

  • Comment number 6.

    Mmmm. There was a time, not so very long ago, when a pilot for a series had to tell a complete story, not just set up a situation. When this one ends we're none the wiser as to what's actually been going on, and yes, we want to see more to find out, but a pilot should (in our opinion) also show that each episode will stand on its own legs and leave us satisfied as well as wanting to tune in next week.

    The dialogue's good, but I expect that from PC. As medical horror it certainly works, and a series would probably be successful, as long as at some point there was a conclusion and not just an open-ended staggering from horror to horror.

    Sorry I can't be more enthusiastic.

  • Comment number 7.

    Really enjoyed. Left me wanting to see more please!

  • Comment number 8.

    Loved and was horrified by pulse. It was intriguingly paranormal whilst keeping enough of a foot in reality to be truly horrifying. The acting was excellent. The dialogue avoided the typical cringeworthy clichés so common in horrors. Please make more!

  • Comment number 9.

    Quote: "This team has been talking about the arc plot of the show for a long time: we know where it's going, we know what the conspiracy is about. We've got a big story to tell."

    That paragraph impressed me more than anything else. I greatly enjoyed the pilot, but the possibility that someone might actually treat a story with care and planning, and not hand us random clues to a mystery that doesn't really exist (eg. Lost), just fills me with joy. I, and many others (yep, we talk!), are quite tired of simplistic, pandering storytelling. Give us something with meat and structure. Give us something where we can watch for clues and slowly figure out the puzzle. Simply put, give us something intelligent, suspenseful, riveting and good. We're ready for it. We're craving it. And we've been let down too many times in the past.

    Pulse looks like it may very well be that sort of show, and the writer's comments only sweeten the expectation. I eagerly await more.

    PS. On a more personal note, if you were to give us more of a "fear of an accidental zombie pandemic" subplot, I think there's a good chance I'd pass out as a result of my "happy" threshold having been breached. (Chuckle) Well, one could hope...

  • Comment number 10.

    Loved this pilot. I really hope this wins. Britain needs a home grown decent horror series! I think this has the most potential to be bought up by a US channel too then the others.

    I found Stanley Park boring and its been done so many times before.

    Pulse was original, and fills a gap in the market!

  • Comment number 11.

    I really enjoyed "Pulse" it was dark , mysterious and riveting. I couldn't find a fault with it. This is the kind of show i would watch. I hope it gets picked up.

  • Comment number 12.

    I really enjoyed Pulse, as othera have mentioned it started slow, but really built up near the end. It also offered something that ITV1 and BBC1 are not doing at the moment with their drama, an adult sci-fi horror.

    Does anyone know what the situation is with these pilots? Will it be a case that only one will be picked up to series, or is it a case that it depends on the reaction, and all of them have a chance to be picked up? As i must admit im torn between the Pulse and Stanley Park at the moment.

  • Comment number 13.

    Really enjoyed it - compelling and puzzling. I need to know more!

  • Comment number 14.

    I watched this with anticipation, will this offer me sustenance that has been promised before by series only to wish one can see into the future and realise what a waste of time that will be. Pulse was OK. It did irritate me though. The reseach was bad we do not have interns in this country, that is in america not GB, we have House Officers, its a shame the writer did not do any research into hospitals in this country. The BBC gets a lot of thigs right in Holby/ Casulty so I'm surprised that this slipped though, but a lot is slipping at the BBC in the last few years.
    Also, why the sex and female nudity? Was it essential to the plot line? NO. It is just gratitiuous nudity to encourage a watching audience and wholly unnecessary but not surprising given the incresing sexism within and on the BBC.
    I don't think I will be watching the next episode as clearly the research is bad the plot line will descend into something a flashforward disappointment.

  • Comment number 15.

    I really enjoyed Pulse, it's about time we had this horror drama type of show on the BBC or in the UK for that matter.

    Please commission a series as it's a very different format to other shows produced in the UK.

    I really liked the young cast, despite only having 53 minutes run time, I thought the characterisation was very strong and the performances, especially from Claire Foy, Emily Beecham and Arsher Ali, were excellent.

    The look of the pilot was impressive, very Cronenberg like, which added to the unnerving nature of the scenes we saw.

    Looks like there are many stories to tell at the hospital, it would certainly be a very thrilling ride finding out what the long term outcome would be.

    Of course there are some who will point at the pilot and find plot holes or things that they don't like, but if everything was produced to the same 'safe' formula, you may as well just spend license fees on imports from the USA.

    Please commission a full series, the cast and writers look like they deserve the chance and I certainly want to watch it!!! 10/10

  • Comment number 16.

    The story behind Pulse appears to be purely a platform for showing blood. In saying we need a "Horror Film" on BBC I think you are rating the viewers at an alltime low standard of mentality. However you can be satisfied that this type of production will certainly reduce many youngsters to a rock bottom expectation of morality in theatrical productions.

  • Comment number 17.

    Pulse ab fab loved it. Its so good to have a hospital drama with more to it can't wait to see more. I want to know what happens PLEASE PLEASE lets have a full series.

  • Comment number 18.

    I thought Pulse was a cracking survival horror harking back to the days of Dawn of The Dead and of recent the Resident Evil series.

    Hospitals always bring around a sense of claustrophobia and fear - and this pilot was certainly on the money with the dark art treatments et al.

    Please release Pulse from the development basement so we can feast on its televisual viscera.


  • Comment number 19.

    I'm intrigued, and want to see more - just so long as it doesn't deteriorate into some kind of horror soap. It needs to remain tight, with a definate, pre-determined structure with a credible end in sight.

  • Comment number 20.

    A smashing job - in our house we often having trouble finding something both my wife & I enjoy to watch. With the combination of medical drama, horror & relationships his was a win win. More please this is a show with great cross over potential.

  • Comment number 21.

    Just watched Pulse really enjoyed it hope it becomes a series

  • Comment number 22.

    Really enjoyed this, glad I'm not going to hospital soon (I hope!) Thought the idea, script and acting were good. I know it was a pilot but so many questions left unanswered, so please lets have some more.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm so gutted that it's only a one off ! :( It was so good tonight and very interesting ! BRING BACK MORE

  • Comment number 24.

    please make a series i was glued to telly missed it last week caught it tuesday love it

  • Comment number 25.

    After watching Pulse, i was struck for words. The reality of the fear really stuck for me. I was also a bit confused as to the weird eyed woman at the end.. but i suppose that adds to the tension of what is going on.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'll start by saying I don't really like horror. I watched this anyway because I really liked the concept. The ethos behind why isn't original but that's about it, there's nothing else clichéd about it. I loved it start to finish. I was on the edge of my seat in suspense. Unlike most horror I've seen the writing was superb and it looks like it's actually going somewhere. I really hope it gets picked up.

  • Comment number 27.

    Can't believe you wasted money on this when you have failed to progress "New Town" a brilliant piece of entertaining and accessible drama. Shame on you BBC.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with timtom about the female nudity being gratuitous. Where's the male equivalent? Actually, scratch that, I don't think I'd like to have seen any of these lead actors naked. Eurgh.

    Anyway, reading the interview, and the plans for the arc make me want the series to be commissioned - however, the pilot by itself was too weak. Badly paced, nothing particularly interesting or memorable, reeeeally slow. I missed some detail at the end because I'd tuned out by then.

  • Comment number 29.

    i downloaded this last week after browsing the iplayer not knowing anything about it i took a chance as it sounded good. i just got round to watching it what with the world cup and found it very very good and look forward to it being made into a series i think it will work very well much like being human did ... again thanks for an excellent programme and more to come please

  • Comment number 30.

    pulse was just amazinggg like totalyy!!!!!!!
    it has a great story line this programme just NEEDS to be shown

  • Comment number 31.

    I greatly enjoyed the pilot, but the possibility that someone might actually treat a story with care and planning, and not hand us random clues to a mystery that doesn't really exist (eg. Lost), just fills me with joy.


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