Angels (TV series)

Angels is a British television seasonal drama series dealing with the subject of student nurses and was broadcast by the BBC between 1975 and 1983 and was once described as the "Z-Cars of nursing".

Final version of series titles from 1983
Created byPaula Milne
StarringFiona Fullerton
Lesley Dunlop
Julie Dawn Cole
Angela Bruce
Pauline Quirke
Kathryn Apanowicz
Shirley Cheriton
Judith Jacob
Clare Clifford
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series9
No. of episodes220
Producer(s)Ron Craddock, Morris Barry, Julia Smith
Running time50 minutes 1975 - 1978
30 minutes 1979 - 1983
Original networkBBC1
Original release1 September 1975 
22 December 1983

The show's format switched to a twice-weekly soap opera format (although still seasonal) from 1979 to 1983.

Background and creators

The show's title derived from the name of the hospital where the series was originally set—St. Angela's, Battersea—although in the early 1980s the scenario changed to Heath Green Hospital, Birmingham. The series was devised by Paula Milne.[1] Early producers included Morris Barry and Ron Craddock. The first episode was directed by Julia Smith who became the show's producer in 1979. Her script editor on the later series was Tony Holland.[2] Filming took place at the now demolished St James' Hospital, Balham, London. Location filming for the fictional Heath Green Hospital took place at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, which has been demolished and replaced on the same site by University Hospital Coventry.

Julia Smith enlisted Tony Holland as Angels script editor after the show became a twice-weekly soap. Smith and Holland went on to create EastEnders in the 1980s. Writers on its first series included Jill Hyem and Anne Valery – who both later co-wrote Tenko – and Adele Rose.


The series provided valuable early TV exposure for a variety of young actresses who became better known on British TV, including Fiona Fullerton, Érin Geraghty, Lesley Dunlop, Julie Dawn Cole, Angela Bruce, Clare Clifford and Pauline Quirke. Additionally, Kathryn Apanowicz, Shirley Cheriton and Judith Jacob all later appeared in EastEnders, with Cheriton playing the particularly prominent role of Debbie Wilkins. Mamta Kaash played a key role in the hospital drama Casualty.

Theme music

The guitar-driven theme tune, reminiscent of American police dramas of the time, was called Motivation, and was composed and performed by Alan Parker.[3]

Critical reception

Angels, in its 1979 to 1983 weekly soap format, tackled issues such as contraception, alcoholism and promiscuity as part of the nurses' lives. Angels received criticism for its unglamorous depiction of the nursing profession, but Smith defended the programme, arguing the need to address such subjects in the series. Indeed, with its sometimes hard-hitting portrayal of young nurses facing up to the demands of the profession, Angels, particularly in its soap format days of 1979 to 1983, was grittily authentic. To this end, each actress taking a part was required to work on a real hospital ward to gain experience and thus contribute to the realism of the series.


Actress Character Series Duration
Fiona FullertonPatricia RutherfordSeries 1-3
Julie Dawn ColeJo LonghurstSeries 1-3
Lesley DunlopRuth FullmanSeries 1
Clare CliffordShirley BrentSeries 1-4
Karan DavidSita PatelSeries 1-3
Érin GeraghtyMaureen MorahanSeries 1-3
Angela BruceSandra LingSeries 1-5
Joanna MonroAnna NewcrossSeries 4-7
Shirley CheritonKaty BettsSeries 4-7
Carol HolmesJean MacEwenSeries 4-6, 8-9
Shelley KingJay HarperSeries 4-5
Kate SaundersBrenda CotteralSeries 4
Clare WalkerSarah Lloyd-Smith #1Series 4
Kate LockSarah Lloyd-Smith #2Series 5
Kathryn ApanowiczRose ButchinsSeries 5-7
Sharon RositaFleur BarrettSeries 5-7
Judith JacobBeverley SlaterSeries 5-7
Susan GilmoreElizabeth FittSeries 6-7
Fay HowardAdrienne O'SheaSeries 6
Julia WilliamsTracey WilloughbySeries 7-9
Sarah LamLinda MoSeries 7-8
Pauline QuirkeVicky SmithSeries 8-9
Mamta KaashNargis KhanSeries 8
Michelle MartinJanet DickensSeries 8-9
Juliet WaleyAlison StreeterSeries 8-9
Joy LemoineAyo LapidoSeries 9


Some TV tie-in novels were published to coincide with the series.

  • Angels by Paula Milne & Leslie Duxbury, Pan Books/BBC Books, 1975.
  • Flights of Angels by Paula Milne, Pan Books/BBC Books, 1976. Includes novelisations of the Season 2 episodes Vocation and Walkabout.
  • New Angels by Paul Milne, BBC Books, 1978.
  • Angel Katy by Leah Harrow, Dragon Books, 1979.

DVD Release

On 18 March 2013 Simply Media released the Series 1 (fifteen episodes) of Angels on DVD. Series 2 was released in September 2014.

Canceled Reboot

According to a 2019 interview with Julie Dawn Cole, the show was slated for a reboot sometime after its initial run. While not much about this reboot is known, Cole stated that the theme of the show was to have new characters in the same fictional setting of Saint Angela’s Hospital, who were less “wholesome” than the characters from the original series. The working title for this reboot was Angels With Dirty Faces. Ultimately the reboot never materialized.


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