Always and Everyone (1999-2002)

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Rating: 4.5/5

Always and Everyone is a medical drama which aired for four seasons from 1999 to 2001.  The show tracked the lives of the doctors working at the Emergency Unit of Saint Victor’s Hospital. Starring Martin Shaw and Niamh Cusack in the main roles, the show brilliantly portrayed the challenges faced by the doctors both professionally and personally and how they coped up differently according to their own personalities.

I came across this show when I was searching for Martin Shaw’s work after I became a huge fan of his George Gently series. I was really curious to see Martin as a doctor when I had just seen him portray a tough maverick police officer. I was truly surprised to see how I enjoyed the entire show and just not Martin’s character.

The main aspect of the show which I loved was the realistic approach the writers had towards the entire concept of medical drama. I never felt the drama was overdone at any places. There were serious opportunities of it going overboard especially during the surgery scenes, but the writers, directors and the actors kept it down which made it extremely effective in getting the audience connected to the characters. Kudos to the writers.

A&E- Accident and Emergency is the Emergency unit at St Victor’s hospital. Under the eccentric leadership ofDr. Robert Kingsford, the team comprises of doctors, senior nurses and nurse practitioners. The routine includes the unit receiving an emergency call regarding the basic details of the patient coming in and decision being taken on the core team who will take charge. The team’s main responsibility is to stabilise the patient, get the basic tests done and send them to the concerned department for further specialised treatment. And when one patient is done, the next one comes in. Such is the buzz at the unit. Apart from the major accidents, there are minor ones that come in, like a fall, sprained ankles, stomach aches and the like which are mostly taken care by the junior doctors with proper guidance from the seniors. There are some really fun moments at the minors. The writers effortlessly builds the relationship among the members of the team. The team, though has different ladders of seniority amongst them, they very well understand how each and every member’s role is important for the operation of the unit. The surgery scenes at the Resus are done without it looking fake. Appreciation to all the actors for making those scenes look very realistic. Uttering the medical terms have to be really fluent when playing a doctor. It shouldn’t look like reciting a poem. Most of the actors do perfect justice to their roles as doctors. There are varied issues handled in the four seasons in addition to the progress in every character’s personal life.

The principal characters include Dr. Robert Kingsford played by Martin Shaw and Dr. Christine Fletcher played by Niamh Cusack. Robert is a born leader. A man of integrity and purpose, he effectively manages his team under unmeasurable pressure. Go-to man for everyone, his team has immense trust and belief in him which is always reciprocated. He never lets down his team in case they make any mistake. He has a tough word with them, but always backs them. Courageous and a risk taker, he is seen fighting against the management policies which obstruct and cause inconvenience to his work and for his patients. He has his moment of weakness when he struggles to cope with his grief over the loss of his wife. He strongly bonds with Christine, encourages her to take up higher positions and turns towards her whenever he is in need to talk to someone. He has his short outbursts of anger but is quick to apologise. A&E would be incomplete without Robert.

Christine on the other hand is completely different from Robert. She takes up leadership roles and struggles for the better part of it. She is loving and concerned, but she believes in keeping her personal emotions away from her professional life but unintentionally makes many decisions following her personal feelings. Her timing of operational decisions come across highly poor. She takes time to understand the bigger picture. She requires her team to give her the push to run the unit. Quick to judge people, she is quite naïve when it comes to management politics. She plays a huge role in helping Robert move on from his wife’s loss. Very sensitive towards office gossip, she forces herself not to have any personal relationship with Robert though the latter wishesto have one. Not a risk taker, she plays her game pretty safe and abides by the management rules because of which she has arguments with Robert many a times. Her team trusts her but not the trust they have on Robert. She understands that as she always feels Robert deserves the Director’s post more than her. She is down to earth and listens when she has to. She and Robert makes a great team which she realises very late.

Martin Shaw effortlessly slips into the role of Robert. There is not a moment when we don’t connect to his character and his endurance. Niamh Cusack does complete justice to her part considering the complexity of her character.

Michael Kitchen’s portrayal of Dr.Jack Turner has to be appreciated. Jack and Robert are rivals. They don’t like each other and they are perfectly aware of that. Their exchanges are real fun. They understand each other very well and knows what the other will come up as his next move. There are no competition between them or plots to overturn the other- at least no wicked plotting. They don’t compromise their work because of their rivalry. Christine’s struggle to balance the men is a must watch.

Other important characters are Mike, Stuart, Kathy, Judy and Terry. The banter that happens in between the tense situations is a treat to watch. Most of them are in brief relationships with someone from their team.

Season 1

Season 1 basically introduces the characters and how the unit works. Christine’s life with her husband and Robert’s with his pregnant wife are briefly shown. But the significant parts of the episodes cover the various kinds of patients the doctors face and how they efficiently handles them. I specifically love 1.3. The tension at Resus is brilliantly shown.

Season 2

Season 2 focuses on various aspects. First is Robert losing his wife and how he copes with his grief, and how he fulfils his new role as a single father. There are some really moving moments especially the one when Robert gets to know the real reason behind his wife’s death. His erratic behaviour at his work soon after and his fight to find his passion back are written nicely throughout the season. We are also shown how professional life affects personal life through Mike Gregson. He has two teenage sons and a failed marriage- divorce, court and custody and how that takes toll on him and his work. My favourite episodes would be 2.2 which shows the closing down of A&E for decontamination as a result of which Robert’s wife is taken to another hospital where she dies, unknown to Robert till the end, 2.9 where the team handles an airplane blast and 2.11 when there is an unbelievable number of patients at the unit and the team struggles to monitor everyone.

Season 3

Season 3 sees the entry of Jack Turner as head of Orthopaedics and call in doctor for A&E. His ideologies are like a train crasher to Robert’s. Christine slowly gets a liking for Jack which grows in this season. Jack becomes the Director of A&E because Robert denies the position. Jack’s decisions doesn’t please Robert and he takes it on Christine, who for most part of it supports Jack. The season also portrays a lot of sensitive issues like racism. One of the storylines depict how the slightest of the mistake can cause the life of the patient. Dr Stuart makes an insertion wrong which nearly costs the life of the patient and Dr. Jack Turner misses a diagnosis which leads the patient to be eternally paralysed. The consequences of those mistakes are also dealt with sensitively and practically. We also see Robert planning to resign unable to fight the politics but later takes it back. I couldn’t pick one episode as my favorite as every episode had really good moments.  Robert and Mike’s attitude to take on the management together is really good. Though they had their initial differences, they make it up maturely. At the same time, the portrayal of management politics tones down the intensity of the patient dealings at the Resus.

Season 4

The final season wraps up in style. It starts with the episode showing a motorway accident and several patients brought in along with a psychopath wanting to take revenge against one of the patients. The season continues with management politics and Christine-Jack relationship. But one of the brilliant episodes of the show has to be 4.4 which shows mob attacks between two races. There are new characters constituting the major portion of the unit, who don’t really make a mark. D’Costa and Sam’s track takes most of the screen time. The season focuses more on the central characters’ personal life tying up the loose ends. Robert’s decision to leave A&E for final, Jack proposing to Christine and Christine’s dilemma makes up for most part of the last two episodes yet it was necessary to give those characters a closure. My favorite episodes would be 4.1, 4.4 and 4.8.

A&E works for me because of the fantastic writing and brilliant acting. The show sticks to its theme till its end. There are tracks which aren’t the best, but for most part of the show, the storyline is very interesting. Characters are close to reality and situations are always connectable.

Being a crime story lover, this show surprisingly makes it to my top 10 favorite shows list, partly because of Martin Shaw but predominantly because of what the show in itself stands for.

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