Portillo's Hidden History of Britain

Royal London Hospital: Healthcare for All

Series 1 - Episode 1 Royal London Hospital: Healthcare for All



Michael Portillo calls a brief halt to his near-constant train journeying to explore some of the abandoned buildings that have played an important role in our history. He starts with the London Hospital in Whitechapel, which, decades before the creation of the National Health Service, cared for the poorest people and was once home to the Elephant Man.

Much of the doc involves Portillo prowling through darkened corridors with the aid of a flashlight but en route he unearths several fascinating stories, including chilling details about the Whitechapel Murders. Be warned, there are also contemporary stories of medical emergencies – accompanied by bloody photos.


Michael Portillo visits four abandoned locations that were at the centre of relatively unknown historical events, examining their place and importance in Britain's past. He begins at the Royal London Hospital in the East End, which closed its doors on 2013 but pioneered medical breakthroughs and healthcare for generations of men, women and children from its founding in 1740. It was also the home of Joseph Merrick, known as the Elephant Man, who spent the last three years of his life as a resident.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Portillo
Executive Producer Jazz Gowans
Series Director Ruairi Fallon
Series Producer Ruairi Fallon
Documentary History