With its realistic procedures and near real-time action, Sky’s new medical drama Critical is a high-octane, confusing ride – but RadioTimes.com is here to help.
Sure, you still might not know what equipment that nurse is using, or what the jargon one of the half dozen doctors is spouting means, but at least you’ll know the main character’s names and job titles. Now all you need is a cushion for when the action turns bloody…
Here’s our guide to the doctors, nurses and administrative staff of Critical:
Mr Glen Boyle (Lennie James): locum consultant / trauma team leader
Acute care surgery specialist Glen has to adjust to his new surroundings as he tries to bring the other doctors up to scratch. He’s spent a lot of his career as a trauma surgeon in the army and his brusque manner can ruffle feathers.
Actor Lennie James has worked with writer Jed Mercurio before, which is one of the reasons he took the part of Glen.
“He is a superb writer, and we discovered when we worked together on Line of Duty that we speak each other’s language. Also it’s a fantastic leading part, and the concept of a real-time medical show is brilliant. So when I was offered the part of Glen, it was a complete no-brainer to accept it.”
Mrs Lorraine Rappaport (Claire Skinner): consultant/trauma team leader
Working in vascular surgery, Lorraine is passionate about patient welfare and respected by her peers – but her ideals can cause clashes with senior hospital staff, and she’s less than pleased when Glen turns up to undermine her position.
For Outnumbered star Skinner, the role was attractive because home life came second. “What I found appealing about Lorraine is that you always see her through the prism of her work,” she says.
“Although there are leakages with regards to what’s going on in her ‘other’ life, you see her as a strong woman who has an amazingly powerful job, which she also happens to be very good at. It’s not about her being a mother, or someone’s wife.
Mrs Nicola Hicklin (Neve McIntosh): nurse consultant / deputy clinical lead (band 8)
Nicola is the head nurse with a hard exterior that belies her good intentions – but their differing styles could bring her and Glen into conflict.
“At the start, she has no idea who Glen is, so she’s suspicious of him,” Doctor Who star Neve McIntosh says, almost unrecognisable without her makeup as Silurian Madame Vastra.
“He’s heading up the trauma team, and they all have to put ultimate trust in him, but she doesn’t really know him. So to begin with, they have some fiery exchanges.”
Miss Fiona Lomas (Catherine Walker): trauma fellow (ST4)
A vascular surgeon, Fiona lacks the experience of some of her superiors but pushes herself to take on the toughest of medical procedures – but it’s her past with Glen (Lennie James) that will give her some of the most stressful situations yet when he takes up his new post.
“People working in trauma are adrenaline junkies – in that they’re very similar to actors,” Walker says. “It’s a heightened world, so relationships and feelings get heightened in the process. It’s a highly pressurised universe.”
Dr Angharad “Harry” Bennett-Edwardes (Kimberley Nixon): ST2
New recruit Harry is a junior Doctor (or SHO), and can often be found struggling with textbooks in the wee hours of the morning – but she has a lot of potential.
“The audience follow Harry a lot of the time because she’s new and, like the viewers, has been thrust into this environment without knowing very much about it,” Fresh Meat star Nixon says.
“She’s a good doctor, but the pace of the work doesn’t allow her time to think. Everybody’s running around, but she’s scared to make decisions because you could kill someone if you get it wrong. But the viewers are with her all the way because she doesn’t know what’s going on, and they don’t, either!”
Dr Ramakrishna Chandramohan (Prasanna Puwanarajah): anaesthetic registrar (ST5)
Anaesthetist Ramakrishna is good at his job but occasionally oversteps the mark with his crude or “laddish” behaviour – particularly when it comes to young Doctor Harry (Kimberley Nixon).
Prasanna Puwanarajah was actually a doctor before he became an actor – and says he was determined to bring that to the table in Critical. “Medical people don’t always get things right,” he says.
“In a lot of medical dramas, everyone is brilliant and infallible, but we should remember that they’re actually human. They’re not perfect. I have been keen to bring in those moments where doctors and nurses don’t seem effective or able to cope with their personal lives impinging on their work.”
Sister Constance Campbell (Ellen Thomas): sister (Band 7)
An old-school nurse who’s been around for longer than anyone can remember, Constance prefers to keep things professional and formal.
“Constance has been working in the NHS for 20-odd years,” says Rev star Thomas.
“She’s a traditional, hand-holding sister who offers that personal touch. Back in the day, there were no trolleys in the corridor. Her children have left home, so now she’s mothering the fresh-faced doctors.”
Billy Finlay (Danny Kirrane): ODP (operating department practitioner) (band 5)
Billy assists Ramakrishna with his anaesthesia equipment, and shares his macho sense of humour.
“Billy is an anaesthetic ODP,” explains actor Danny Kirrane. “They used to be called ‘theatre boys’.”
“They assist the anaesthetist with tubing and ventilation. They’re not doctors or nurses, but they still have three years’ training. They know where everything is. They have all the drugs ready, especially in a trauma situation because then every second counts.”
Giles Dhillon (Paul Bazely): trauma manager
Giles is master of all he surveys from his central Perspex office – but his lack of medical background and focus on the nitty-gritty of questionnaires and paperwork creates division between him and the staff.
Justin Costello (John MacMillan): staff nurse
Young nurse Justin finds thrills in the trauma world, but still lacks some experience – and he can’t help but sing Stayin’ Alive during resuscitation procedures…
Sister Nerys Merrick (Mali Harries): trauma nurse
Nerys has a good heart and a motherly relationship with young nurse Justin – but she can stand up for herself when it counts.
Mrs Rebecca Osgood (Emma Fryer): registrar (ST4)
Rebecca confounds the stereotypes of most brash male orthopaedic surgeons, balancing her work with her family commitments.
Dr Clive Archerfield (Peter Sullivan): consultant /clinical lead
The senior doctor in the Emergency Department, Clive’s main focus is meeting (or improving on) hospital targets – to the possible detriment of patients and staff.
Brian Zhao (Orion Lee): CT radiographer
Brian’s attention to detail is legendary, but it can cause problems when he’s forced to improvise and give up his precious order and routine.
Shelley Imms (Juliet Oldfield): radiographer
Shelley is a friendly and competent member of the hospital – but her heart leads her into bad decisions.
Critical begins on Sky 1 tonight (Tuesday 24th February) at 9pm