BBC Birmingham soap Doctors cancelled: Petition launched as fans & actors react to show axe

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BBC Doctors was cancelled but a petition has been launched to save the daytime soap as several fans and actors react to the shock announcement

Medical drama Doctors, which was filmed in Birmingham, has been cancelled by the BBC after more than 20 years - and fans aren’t happy.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to save the show which is set in the fictional Midlands town of Letherbridge, close to Birmingham. The daytime soap follows the staff and their families of a doctor’s surgery.

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It starred a talented cast including Owen Brenman, Matthew Chambers, Elisabeth Dermot Wash, Ian Kelsey and Adrian Lewis Morgan and won many awards including numerous RTS Awards and nine British Soap Awards. The show has helped launch the careers of some of the most popular British stars like Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, The Crown star Claire Foy and Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beast actor Eddie Redmayne.

The BBC announced yesterday (October 18) it was axing the show due to “super inflation in drama production”. Since then, a petition was launched to save the show.

Petitioner Carys Ashby said: “The show is not just for entertainment as it has saved people’s lives with the medical issues being highlighted and many mental health subjects tackled and talked about. The fans have grown with the characters over the years and feel part of the ever changing Doctors family. Sign this petition to save Doctors and hope that another company can pick the show up or the BBC can change their minds.”

BBC Doctors set to be axed (Photo credit - BBC Doctors)BBC Doctors set to be axed (Photo credit - BBC Doctors)
BBC Doctors set to be axed (Photo credit - BBC Doctors)

What the BBC said about axing Doctors

The BBC said: “We have taken the very difficult decision to bring daytime drama Doctors to an end after 23 years. With super inflation in drama production, the cost of the programme has increased significantly, and further investment is also now required to refurbish the site where the show is made, or to relocate it to another home. With a flat licence-fee, the BBC’s funding challenges mean we have to make tough choices in order to deliver greater value to audiences.

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“We remain fully committed to the West Midlands and all of the funding for Doctors will be reinvested into new programming in the region.

“We would like to thank all the Doctors cast and crew who have been involved in the show since 2000. We know the crucial role Doctors has played in nurturing talent, and we will work to develop new opportunities to support skills in scripted programming.

“The final episode will screen in December 2024 and we are working closely with BBC Studios to give it the finale it deserves.”

How people reacted to cancellation of Doctors

Locals and people across the country were disappointed to see the show go and many are hoping that a petition would help save it.

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Mrs Barbara Nice, the alter-ego created by award-winning comedian and theatre director Janice Connolly, has supported the petition to save the show.

Actor Laura Rollins said: “I’m so sad to hear this news. I’ll be forever indebted to the show for giving me a great start in the industry. I learnt so much playing Ayesha & met so many incredible & talented people during my time there. It’s also a big loss for the Midlands. Thinking of the cast and crew.”

Brummie writer and director Nick Hennegen said on X, formerly Twitter: “A very sad day for Birmingham! Some of our early @MaverickTheatre actors helped the @BBCDoctors crew get ready for fast turn-round TV. And many of them went on to perform in the show. I’m guessing the @TheWritersGuild won’t be happy either. So get ready for more reality shite and foreign imports!”

Debbie Howard, who directed episodes of Doctors, said: “Such sad new guys. So sorry to hear this for all the cast and crew. I learned so much directing this show. Love to you all x.”

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One person said: “Very sad news @BBCDoctors. Without this cast/crew/writing etc opportunities are incredibly thin in the West Midlands. Not only has it been a great breeding ground for talent, it has also been a workplace filled with dedicated, talented people making vibrant & much loved work.”

Another added: “This is very sad news for all the folks who work on this show. I do hope all the funding will be allocated to other TV projects in the West Midlands and the great talent both acting and technical recognised for there contribution to BBC programming.”

A voice actor Susie Riddell said: “Oh this is devastating news for all the regular crew and cast; and for all the writers, directors and actors who cut their teeth at Letherbridge. And just dreadful for Birmingham. Absolutely gutted.”

One person said: “8,947 actors have appeared in Doctors, including early roles for Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, plus Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emilia Clarke, Sam Heughan, Jodie Comer, Nicholas Hoult, and Hannah Waddingham. How will young actors get similar chances to follow in their footsteps.”

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Actress Sophie Bradley said: “My first tv job was on @BBCDoctors and it was such a joy I was nervous and everyone was so kind, especially Bharti Patel who made me feel so welcome and gave me great advice. Such a shame it’s ending, thanks for my first tv credit, it was a dream job.”

How the Writer’s Union reacted to the cancellation of Doctors

Since the announcement, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) - a trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, comedy, poetry, animation and videogame - called it a “terrible loss”.

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “The closure of Doctors is a terrible loss to the UK writing community, and to audiences. Initially considered a ‘training’ show for creatives, it has long developed into a much-loved programme with fantastic stories written by dedicated teams of scriptwriters.

“It is essential in an increasingly global market that the UK continues to provide distinctive content and opportunities for our writers. It is therefore of real concern that this is the second long running drama series to be scrapped by the BBC in the last two years, the first being Holby City. The closure of another drama series leaves a big hole in the drama slate, and in the pockets of Doctors writers, many of whom have written for the show for years.

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“We will be continuing our conversations with the BBC on this and providing support for our members who are affected.”

WGGB Chair Lisa Holdsworth said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear this news. I know that the Doctors writing team boasts some of the most passionate and dedicated writers working in UK television. Over the years they’ve generated thousands of inventive and impactful stories, often reflecting the realities of modern British life whilst still remaining entertaining and accessible to the audience. I hope the BBC and the wider industry appreciates their talent going forward.”

What West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said about cancellation of Doctors

The news comes after West Midlands Mayor Andy Street announced that the final confirmation of the Tea Factory from the BBC Board has come through.

Mayor Street said: “I’ve worked hard with Tim Davie, to make sure the BBC up the game investing in the West Midlands The BBC are committed to the WM, a new HQ, Silent Witness, Masterchef & more.”

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“At the same time, it’s sad news that Doctors is coming to an end after 23 years For many working in TV, Doctors was often the first step - with big names like Claire Foy featuring. Let’s be clear, the investment in Doctors will stay in the WM & be spent on new productions.”

How to support the petition to save BBC Birmingham soap Doctors

With more than 1,000 supporters already - you can add your signature to the petition launched by Carys Ashby here: The petition to save Save Doctors at Change.org.

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