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Michael J Bird's Contribution to
General Hospital
Screencap of title
ATV / 110x30m-e 54x60m-e / 1972-79
Ian Fordyce, Royston Morley / Theme Music: Derek Scott

In 1972 ITV began broadcasting TV programmes in the afternoons for the first time. General Hospital was conceived as an afternoon UK soap, around the same period as Emmerdale Farm. The show was pretty much like the US soap General Hospital in that it was mainly concerned with the romantic entanglements of the doctors and nurses of the Midlands based hospital. It was screened in twice weekly thirty minute episodes.

In 1975 the show graduated to a primetime Friday hour long broadcast. Producer Royston Morely sought to put the accent more on drama and approached, amongst others, Michael Bird to contribute stories. Bird had worked with Morely at the BBC on Brett a few years earlier.


DAVID GARTH as Dr Matthew Armstrong
JAMES KERRY as Dr Martin Baxter
LEWIS JONES as Dr William Parker-Brown
MONICA GREY as Sister Edwards
RONALD LEIGH-HUNT as Dr Robert Thorne
TONY ADAMS as Dr Neville Bywater
LYNDA BELLINGHAM as Nurse Hilda Price
JUDY BUXTON as Nurse Katy Shaw
PEGGY SINCLAIR as Sister Helen Chapman
CARMEN MUNROE as Sister Washington
IAN WHITE as Dr Peter Ridge

Broadcast 2nd July 1976

TV Times entry - click for larger image

Click for larger image


Bird wrote only the one episode, "Red Alert". He hated anything medical, believing that most doctors were charlatans, and hospitals filled him with dread. He didn't want to do it.

His wife recalls he felt he was pushed into it. "In revenge he wrote an incredible story about the hospital being inundated with victims of a motorway pile up, one of whom was woman about to give birth who had two broken legs, a surgeon held up getting to the hospital etc. etc. He thought it was so over the top the company would reject it. However they loved it!"

Bird's episode was given pride of place in the schedule. They even named the show's new theme "Red Alert".

Michael J Bird Tribute Website

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